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Commentary: Catholic Communication Campaign: Connecting communities in Christ

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Commentary: Catholic Communication Campaign: Connecting communities in Christ

Ever since Jesus told his disciples to take his message to all nations, the Catholic Church has done so using the best communications methods of the day. Early Christians pioneered new communications technology when they switched from scrolls to booklets.

The founder of my own tradition, St. Francis of Assisi, used the popular media of the Middle Ages when he spread the Gospel by entertaining in village squares.

Today, the Catholic Communication Campaign, supported by a national collection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, promotes Catholic messages of faith, hope and healing, using current popular media. This collection will be taken in most parishes the weekend of May 15-16. (May 16 is World Communications Day.)

Half of your gift will stay in your home diocese, supporting local projects to inspire, enlighten, and draw people closer to Jesus. The other half will fund Catholic communications projects that are national in scope or that aid Catholic outreach in developing nations.

Never was this campaign’s motto more true than during the COVID-19 pandemic: We are connecting communities in Christ.

When limitations and restrictions on group gatherings prompted churches to close their doors, your gifts to this collection enabled Catholic ministry to continue in places with little communication infrastructure.

The USCCB used campaign funds 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.

COVID-19 is not the only crisis to which this collection responds. Campaign funds also have enabled bishops to lead virtual roundtables on racism, gun control, and care for creation in order to engage the faithful on pertinent moral and social issues.

The reach of the collection is far and wide — it also is helping the Archdiocese of Blantyre in Malawi to launch a radio station that can reach the faithful in rural areas. A 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 Catholic 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 CCC grant to improve its social media outreach and to produce animated videos on Catholic social principles.

Several recent grants highlight people whose ministry placed them on the path to sainthood.

The forthcoming documentary “Mother Saints”” will examine the lives of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), whose service to and advocacy for people on the peripheries still inspires the church’s social ministry. Another 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.

In addition, a forthcoming film led by the Diocese of Savannah will share the moving story of the five Georgia martyrs who gave their lives in witness to the Christian faith as Franciscan missionaries in what is now Georgia.

Your gift to this collection will bring the message of Jesus and the stories of saints who have followed him to your community and to communities on the other side of the world. Please give generously, knowing that you are continuing the work of the apostles.

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Editor Note: More about the Catholic Communication Campaign can be found at www.usccb.org/ccc.

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Archbishop Hartmayer of Atlanta, a Conventual Franciscan, is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign.

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