The U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the Catholic Church in Africa approved more than $1.35 million in grants to fund 51 pastoral projects in 14 countries.
“As we reviewed over one hundred pages of applications, the vibrancy of the faith in Africa was apparent,” said Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., who served as chairman of the subcommittee before his recent retirement.
“What was also clear was the tremendous need of the Church there.”
The subcommittee, which falls under the U.S. bishops’ Committee on National Collections, made the decision about the grants during its Nov. 13 meeting at the bishops’ fall General Assembly in Baltimore.
Funding for grants is provided by parish collections through an initiative by the U.S. bishops' conference called the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.
Among the grants awarded by the subcommittee was one for $17,000 to fund ongoing pastoral work among the Borana people in southern Ethiopia.
Evangelization of the nomadic people in this region has led to numerous baptisms as well as men studying for the priesthood and women applying to enter religious communities.
The newly-approved funding will go towards the continued religious education and training of volunteer catechists in the area.
Funding from the collection has also helped open four schools in the Diocese of Djibouti.
Sixty percent of primary school-age children do not attend school in the Republic of Djibouti. Many areas are too dangerous for children to travel to school and those that do are often taught by teachers who lack the proper training and equipment.
Schools opened with help from the Pastoral Solidarity Fund have educated more than 700 students, instilling Catholic values while also teaching the children trades that will enable them to achieve financial independence in the future.
Hajouwera Gladness, a fourth grade student at Our Lady of Boulaos School, said that the school provides her with an opportunity to make use of resources including computers and a library.
She said that her teachers pay attention “to each person,” and that the students “are in security in the school.”
“It’s very nice,” she said. “I feel as if it’s my family.”