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Center for Agricultural Economy receives CCHD grant

The Center for an Agricultural Economy, a non-profit organization based in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, is the recipient of a $70,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to support its organizing campaign and issues assembly that will launch the Northeast Kingdom Organizing Project.
 
“As a member-led organization, NEKO will be a vehicle for people to have a voice in critical decisions that impact their lives,” said Martha Braithwaite, lead organizer.
 
The Hardwick-based Center for an Agricultural Economy envisions a future with thriving landscapes, healthy local food and vital, equitable communities and believes a place-based agricultural economy and intentional community development is the path to this future.
 
For many years, the center has been working in the local food system, within communities and with farm and food businesses. “But we also knew we weren’t moving fast enough,” Braithwaite said.
 
In 2015, the Center for an Agricultural Economy began a listening campaign designed to uncover some of the larger challenges related to food access, equity and independence in the local community. Staff spent a year learning from community members, low-income neighbors and faith-based communities about what challenges people in rural Vermont.
 
“The results were varied, but it led us to realize that we can’t do this work alone,” Braithwaite said. “Food equity and access are tied up in other issues such as transportation, livable wages, childcare, opiate addiction and generational poverty.”
 
Out of this work has grown the Northeast Kingdom Community Organizing Project, a regional network of partners who believe that working across sectors and groups is a critical approach to successfully addressing our issues of rural poverty and food insecurity.”
 
She added, “As a group, we believe that community organizing around issues is a critical strategy to change the future for the better. We also believe that the tent is wide enough for many partners to work together.”
 
An equitable food and agricultural economy has created empowered, interdependent communities with shared mutual goals, within the greater Hardwick region that are socially and economically thriving and contribute to a vital ecological future, is the organization’s stated vision.
 
“We are very excited that this grant will allow us to dramatically accelerate the pace of our organizing,” Braithwaite said. “Community organizing is slow and deliberate work. Surfacing the root causes of issues that negatively impact our communities and building relationships among leaders ready to take action together to address them takes time.”
 
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development was founded in 1970 by the Catholic bishops of the United States as their domestic anti-poverty program. Designed to address the policies and structures that perpetuate poverty to create sustainable solutions, CCHD empowers poor and marginalized people to join together and make decisions to improve their lives and neighborhoods.
 
The CCHD national collection date is the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection to return

The Diocese of Burlington again will participate in the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
 
The appeal will take place the weekend of Nov. 19, the weekend before Thanksgiving and the first ever World Day of the Poor; 25 percent of funds collected will remain in the Diocese to fund local anti-poverty projects, and the remainder is distributed nationally through grants.
 
There are more than 46 million people in the United States living in poverty, and this collection supports programs to empower local communities to address the challenges they face. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development supports those living in poverty across the country to identify and address the unique obstacles they face as they work to lift themselves out of poverty. “By supporting this collection, donors are giving those on the margins a hand up, not a hand out,” said Mary Beth Pinard, diocesan director of CCHD and executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
 
CCHD supports grassroots organizations that work to bring permanent and positive changes to their communities through community development grants, technical assistance grants, economic development grants and national strategic grants.
 
Community development grants range from $25,000-$75,000 and work to nurture solidarity between people living in poverty and those who do not. Projects funded by these grants empower those living in poverty to identify and take action to change problematic systems and structures in their communities.
 
Economic development grants range from $25,000-$75,000 and support community-based organizations and businesses that create just workplaces, provide quality jobs and develop assets for low-income people. 
 
National strategic grants range from $200,000-$500,000 and fund projects that promote justice and economic development on a significantly larger scale.
 
Vermont has two organizations that have currently received national grants from CCHD: The Center for the Agricultural Economy and Vermont Interfaith Action.
 
The Diocese of Burlington participated in the national CCHD collection until 2010 when it instituted The Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal for Human Advancement to raise money to support local non-profit organizations that make a difference in the daily lives of Vermonters. That specific collection will not be taken.
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Delegates prepare for Convocation of Catholic Leaders

The 3,000 people attending the upcoming Convocation of Catholic Leaders are being seen as members of diocesan teams who will return home to act on what they see and learn while discussing the church's role in a changing social landscape.

A combination guidebook and journal has been developed to help the delegates prepare for the gathering in Orlando, Florida, set for July 1-4.

The 68-page book offers activities for the diocesan teams as they meet during the weeks leading to the gathering, allowing them to reflect and pray on Scripture and the teachings of Pope Francis, particularly his apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel").

"To get something done, we want people to have prepared as teams before they come in to get more out of (the convocation)," said Jonathan Reyes, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and a convocation planner. "What you get out of this is what you put into it."

The booklet is being sent to each registered participant to the invitation-only event. It also is available online to anyone interested in learning more about the convocation at bit.ly/2rR6OTY.

Reyes told Catholic News Service that the guidebook encourages team members to plan which sessions to attend that fits with the goals of their diocese in building a church built on mercy and missionary discipleship.

"In the ideal world, it's forming a team that brings together people from the peripheries who are not normally together. This book is what's going to help them think as a team before they get there. It gives them some things to reflect on together," he explained.

"We're trying to make clear that this isn't the kind of thing you attend passively and that bishops and leaders are meant to be integrated in a conversation of the whole church together and experience the conference not as the bishops over there, the laypeople over here. It's actually meant to be everyone mixing together in conversation," Reyes added.

The guidebook offers numerous Scripture citations and references to passages from the pope's exhortation. Delegates are encouraged to read some of the passages and pray about what they mean for their particular role in the convocation and the church at home.

A separate section includes space for journal entries based on the discussion of each day of the convocation. The idea, Reyes said, is to allow participants the opportunity to reflect in the moment and then return to their writings when they return home.

"It's spiritual preparation as well," Reyes said of the book. "It's deeply scriptural and there's a lot of "Evangelii Gaudium" as well as some other key church documents from the bishops. It's a lot of Scripture and a lot of Pope Francis."

The convocation is meant to guide people to build the church that Pope Francis is calling people to shape, Reyes added.

"We didn't want to create a program. This (convocation) is for people to design or think through together what mission looks like. Pope Francis says again and again, 'Don't do the same old things.' You want to think creatively. So we're not going to put together a program, but people are going to experience, hopefully, in a way that gives them a way forward, a vision for their own," he said.

Meanwhile, more than $500,000 had been pledged to support scholarships for people attending the convocation. Reyes' department and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development have allocated $100,000 each in financial assistance. The Black and Indian Mission Office has pledged another $300,000.

The goal of such scholarships is to allow diverse voices to be on hand in Orlando, Reyes said.

"If there's a Francis inspiration in this, it's let's not just talk, (but) act," he told CNS. "So we are pushing action, action, action through proper preparation."
  • Published in Nation
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