The Archdiocese of Denver collected a record amount of more than $420,000 in donations for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe earlier this year – more than twice the average special collection for that annual cause.
The special collection occurred Ash Wednesday, March 2, shortly after Russia initiated military action against Ukraine. This collection was an opportunity for Catholics in the U.S. to show their solidarity for the people of Central and Eastern Europe.
“Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, Central and Eastern European countries have been working to rebuild: their political structures, social welfare, economies and their religious life,” said Father Witold Kaczmarzyk, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes and native of Poland.
“Thanks be to God that we haven’t experienced something like this in the United States. This collection helps a lot our brothers and sisters who still have to fight for freedom of religion, and struggle to rebuild the Church.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) designates recipients and mandates the calendar date for some of the special collections. The Church in Central and Eastern Europe was designated this year and next year for offertory collections on Ash Wednesday by the USCCB.
Contributions provide emergency funds that are already helping the victims of this war with food and water, hygiene supplies, support, and other necessary humanitarian services, according to the internet page for the collection.
“Your support is crucial to help those affected by this unfolding humanitarian disaster,” the USCCB page stated.
Years after the fall of communism, most countries in Eastern and Central Europe are lagging behind and still struggling to overcome the legacy and destruction left by the communist system, Kaczmarzyk said. Catholics of these regions continue to need our help, he added.
Christians at churches in Northern Colorado responded to the need in a tangible and unprecedented way.
“Especially now with Russia attacking Ukraine, and my homeland, Poland helping refugees to start fresh, this collection is needed more than ever before,” Kaczmarzyk said.