Pope Francis says, “Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others.” Catholics are bringing the love of Jesus to the hungry, the poor, the sick and those in prison throughout the world. Globally, the Catholic Church is recognized as the largest charity in the world, operating more than 140,000 schools, 5,000 hospitals and some 16,000 other health clinics.
Catholic Relief Services, founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States, has provided aid to 130 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents. In America, Catholic Charities USA is number 11 on the Forbes 100 Largest U.S. Charities and serves millions of people each year through activities such as housing, healthcare and disaster relief.
Most of the 200,000 Catholic parishes throughout the world operate their own small-scale charitable projects. According to the 2018 Social Ministry Survey conducted by the Communication Office of the Diocese of Burlington, the 72 parishes in Vermont are just as generous. One hundred percent of parishes participate in ministries to feed the hungry.
Eleven parishes operate their own food shelf, almost every parish participates in food collections for local or statewide food shelves and 76 percent provide financial support to those experiencing hunger. Ninety-eight percent of parishes participate in ministries serving those in poverty, including emergency aid or vouchers, parish-run thrift shops, clothing and donations to local nonprofits serving the poor. Almost every parish is involved in pastoral care for the sick and elderly; 73 percent serve or provide support to organizations serving the homeless, and 26 percent are involved in prison ministry.
Catholic parishes provide support to more than 170 different nonprofit organizations serving the hungry, poor, sick and imprisoned all over Vermont. The (following) statistics … highlight the impact Catholics have in Vermont and their commitment to serving Christ by loving and helping the poor and outcast.
98% of parishes participate in food drives and food distribution.
78% of parishes provide financial aid those those experiencing poverty.
$191,657 in emergency aid was distributed to 1,033 families last year by Vermont Catholic Charities.
60% of parishes provide vouchers for household goods to those in need.
66% of parishes provide services and support to those who are homeless.
66% of parishes participate in Catholic Relief Service’s Rice Bowl program.
Originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.