November 4, 2011

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Providing pathways out of poverty

David SilerDuring November, Catholics in the archdiocese are given a wonderful opportunity to provide a few stepping stones on the pathway out of poverty for many Indiana residents.

Most of our parishes will take up a second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) during the month. I hope that you will be generous. Many suffering Hoosiers are counting on us.

CCHD is just what its name implies—a campaign to develop in people the capacity to move out of poverty.

As you can imagine, the pathways out of poverty are many and varied. Therefore, the programs that are funded by the campaign are quite varied, but all with the goal of the poor helping themselves out of poverty by breaking down some of the barriers that keep them from success.

CCHD is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ official domestic anti-poverty campaign. The campaign is funded primarily through our parish’s second collection in November, of which 50 percent is kept locally, and 50 percent is shared with the national office and distributed as national grants.

Last year, we had more money come back to our archdiocese in the form of national grants than we sent to the national office, meaning that in reality more than 100 percent of our diocesan collection went toward anti-poverty programs in our own diocese.

CCHD funding is typically just one of the many funding streams given to organizations that seek to empower the poor to help themselves. They differ from Catholic Charities’ programs that are owned and operated by our archdiocese, and that are direct social service programs, whereas CCHD-funded programs are typically focused on leadership development, empowerment and the creation of economic opportunity.

Although not all programs funded by CCHD are Catholic, they are required to operate according to the values of the Catholic Church. And we don’t fund programs because “they” are Catholic. We fund them because “we” are Catholic.

CCHD has taken some criticism for funding non-Catholic agencies over the years, which, of course, carries with it some risk.

I can assure you that in the archdiocese we work diligently to ensure that donations are used for their intended purpose, and that our Catholic values and principles are held to the highest of standards. At the same time, it is an honor for us as Catholics to partner in this way with other organizations with a like-minded mission. This is one very real way that we get to demonstrate unity in the body of Christ.

One newly funded group in Indianapolis is called IndyCAN, whose mission is to bring together churches of various faith traditions to develop leadership capacity of those people most impacted by systemic inequality, and to improve conditions for the most vulnerable in central Indiana.

Father Todd Goodson, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis and an IndyCAN member, said, “I think IndyCAN is doing a great job for Marion County. They are bringing churches together in a common mission—to reduce crime, to create jobs and to bring about a more profound respect for the dignity of all people.”

To learn more about CCHD, both locally and nationally, log on to

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at

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