CCHD collection aims to combat poverty
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is the U.S. bishops’ anti-poverty program, and the Archdiocese of New Orleans will take up a second collection at all Masses the weekend of Nov. 19-20 to fund initiatives both locally and across the country.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, the new director of the Office of Justice and Peace for Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, said the annual collection helps raise funds for three major local programs: the Master Crafts Guild in the 7th Ward that trains apprentices for well-paying jobs in masonry, plastering and ironwork; Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) that reaches out to the children of those who are imprisoned; and the Workers’ Justice Center, which advocates for day laborers in wage and job-site issues.
The CCHD also supports several programs with smaller grants, Fitzpatrick said.
“The CCHD started shortly after Vatican II to address poverty needs in the country, and all the money goes to address domestic issues of poverty,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Master Crafts Guild has been effective in training young men and women in masonry, plastering and ironwork “so that they can be employable and self-sustaining,” Fitzpatrick said. “The guild also helps keep the culture of the master crafts alive in the 7th Ward.”
FFLIC offers support to children whose parents are incarcerated, Fitzpatrick said.
“We’re trying to keep them out of the prison pipeline and be a support for children and other family members,” he said.
The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice protects day laborers “and other working-class citizens from wage theft and protects their rights on the work site,” Fitzpatrick said. The group worked with the City of New Orleans to ensure that a set number of local workers were hired in the construction of the new terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, slated to open in 2018. The group also is working to raise the state minimum wage.
Fitzpatrick said 75 percent of the local collection is sent to the U.S. bishops’ national office in Washington, D.C., and 25 percent remains in the archdiocese. The reality, however, is that local anti-poverty initiatives receive more grant money each year than the amount of money sent to the national office.
“We receive a lot more than we take in because of the high need in this area,” Fitzpatrick said.
Contributing to the CCHD is a concrete way, Fitzpatrick said, for people to respond to Pope Francis’ emphasis on “solidarity” with the poor as well as several goals in the archdiocesan synod that call for expanding parish social ministry and advocating for criminal justice and immigration reform and an end to human trafficking.
“We got the impression from the synod that people want to help but don’t know how,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is a practical way of doing so. It’s also important to know that we partner with the Respect Life Office and the Racial Harmony Office.”
From 2006-12, Fitzpatrick was the director of Operation Helping Hands, a program of Catholic Charities that organized volunteers from across the country to gut, repair, rebuild and paint hundreds of homes throughout the area after Hurricane Katrina. During those seven years, 30,000 volunteers came to New Orleans to fuel the rebuilding.
“Catholic Charities did it differently than the other rebuilders,” Fitzpatrick said. “We helped the people who needed it the most, who had no resources or insurance. Most of the people we helped were on fixed incomes or elderly who had no economic resources to bring to the table.”