Special collection to support minority ministries

Catholics have an opportunity to support evangelization and catechetical efforts in parishes and schools serving minority communities through the annual Black and Indian Mission Collection planned for weekend Masses Feb. 29 and March 1 in parishes around the archdiocese.

The longest running “special collection” in the United States (136 years), it provides grants to fund education and evangelization programs for African Americans and Native Americans, including formation of lay leadership, training of catechists, purchasing catechetical materials, and educating African American and Native American seminarians, and other ministries and projects.

In the Omaha archdiocese, last year’s collection returned $57,000, or 58%, of the $98,552 collected to support programs in the archdiocese.

Of that total, St. Augustine Indian Mission and School in Winnebago received $37,500, the archdiocese’s Black Catholic Implementation Team (a chapter of the National Black Catholic Congress) received $15,000, and Our Lady of Africa Chaplaincy ministries received $5,000.

“In parishes such as ours that historically lack the resources to create and sustain ministries, the Black and Indian Mission Collection supports initiatives for the people most in need,” said Deacon Donald Blackbird, director of religious education at St. Augustine, as well as St. Cornelius Mission in Homer, Our Lady of Fatima Mission in Macy, and St. Joseph Parish in Walthill.

“Through the years (the collection) has helped us build a worship center in Macy, it helped support the ministries to the (Omaha and Winnebago) tribes, it helped us develop a thrift store on the Omaha reservation, and it supports our religious education program for the parishes,” he said.

Grants from the collection also support the archdiocese’s Black Catholic Implementation Team’s Pastoral Plan of Action, the team’s Annual Day of Reflection and participation in the National Black Congress every five years, said Angela Hardin, implementation team leader. It also provides tuition assistance for black students in Catholic grade schools, attendance of black high schoolers at the biennial SEEK youth conference, and other faith formation and educational activities.

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