WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Communication Campaign “relies on the generosity of Catholics across the country to help us continue to spread the good news, especially during these challenging times,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the campaign.
U.S. Catholics support the campaign through a national collection, which this year in many dioceses is May 15 and 16. World Communications Day is May 16.
“Ever since Jesus told his disciples to take his message to all nations, the church has done so using the best communications methods of the day,” said Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Atlanta, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign.
The USCCB has posted a number of resources about the Catholic Communication Campaign and how the funds are used at www.usccb.org/ccc.
The collection has both local and national impact: Half of the gift stays in the donor’s diocese, supporting local projects “to inspire, enlighten, and draw people closer to Jesus,” a May 10 USCCB news release said. The other half supports Catholic communication activities that are national in scope or that aid Catholic outreach in developing nations.
According to the USCCB release, the COVID-19 pandemic presented the “perfect storm” with increasing demand for support from the Catholic Communication Campaign while at the same time most parishioners were unable to attend Mass due to COVID-19-related restrictions the weekend of the collection. “That situation resulted in a significant decline in giving to the CCC, which is trending down by more than half,” it said.
“We have seen the importance of staying spiritually connected in a time of physical distancing,” Archbishop Hartmayer said in a statement about the collection.
“From local parishes streaming their Masses online for parishioners, to dioceses hosting special opportunities of prayer with their bishops in the midst of fear and uncertainty,” he said, “the Catholic Communication Campaign provided crucial assistance throughout the COVID pandemic to keep our faith family connected.”
When limitations and restrictions on group gatherings prompted churches to close their doors, the campaign collection enabled Catholic ministry to continue in places with little communication infrastructure. The USCCB used the funding to help dioceses and parishes livestream the Mass.
The USCCB also launched its own redesigned, mobile-friendly website — www.usccb.org — where Catholics can find daily readings and reflections on Scripture.
The Catholic Communication Campaign also has enabled bishops to lead virtual roundtables on racism, gun control and care for creation to engage Catholics “on pertinent moral and social issues,” the USCCB said. “The reach of the collection is far and wide — it is also helping the Archdiocese of Blantyre in Malawi launch a radio station to reach rural Catholics.”
U.S. projects with a national reach that have received funding from the campaign include a 2020 documentary titled “Revolution of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story,” a film by Martin Doblmeier about the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, as well as a forthcoming documentary titled “Mother Saints” on the lives of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917).
Another similarly funded documentary will tell the story of sainthood candidate Sister Thea Bowman (1937-1990), a “Servant of God” and the granddaughter of a slave who became a joyous advocate for faith in Jesus and for racial justice.
A campaign grant to Renew International, which produces small-group study materials, will underwrite videos in which Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, explains church teaching against the death penalty and proposes a better vision of criminal justice.
Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Inc., a Vatican-chartered organization that St. John Paul II founded to promote Catholic social teaching, will use a grant to improve its social media outreach and to produce animated videos on Catholic social principles.
“Gifts to this collection will bring the message of Jesus to your community and to communities on the other side of the world,” Archbishop Hartmayer said.