By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
MUSCATINE – Father David Brownfield hammed it up for a photo op when one of the parishes he serves, St. Joseph-Wellman, was recognized for its financial contribution to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The Wellman parish was among 13 parishes in the Davenport Diocese honored Oct. 15 at the Mazzuchelli Center for significant increases in their contributions to CCHD.
A big grin appeared on the face of Loxi Hopkins, the volunteer director of CCHD for the diocese, as Fr. Brownfield approached her to receive a certificate of appreciation. She had just finished thanking the priest for suggesting the luncheon event to help spread the word about CCHD. “It’s an important collection that changes people’s lives,” she said.
The Wellman parish contribution of $3,098 in 2015 represented a 520 percent increase over the previous year. Fr. Brownfield attributed that success to generous parishioners who appreciated their pastor talking about the social justice work that CCHD funds. The other award-winning parishes and their increases: St. Patrick Parish, Ottumwa, 550 percent; St. Patrick Parish, Marengo, 456 percent; St. James Parish, St. Paul, 415 percent; St. Mary Parish, Oxford, 380 percent; Holy Trinity Parish, Richmond, 284 percent; St. Joseph Parish, Richland, 275 percent; St. Wenceslaus Parish, Iowa City, 207 percent; St. Mary Parish, Ottumwa, 145 percent; St. Mary Parish, Sigourney, 108 percent; St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City, 106 percent; St. John Vianney Parish, Bettendorf, 76 percent; and Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport, 66 percent.
Altogether, the 78 parishes in the diocese contributed $37,676.54 to the 2015 CCHD campaign, more than $10,000 over the previous year’s contribution of $27,115.32. CCHD is the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that works to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ. An annual collection is held (Nov. 19-20 this year) in parishes across the country to support the work of CCHD in the United States. Seventy-five percent of the money raised in the Davenport Diocese goes toward national grants, some of which have been previously awarded to projects in the diocese. The remaining 25 percent stays in the diocese for grants to qualifying organizations.
Representatives from two CCHD-funded organizations — Quad Cities Interfaith (QCI) and Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa (CWJ) — spoke about the work they do in the diocese to empower the poor and marginalized. Rafael Morataya and Sergio Awan, CWJ’s executive director and vice president, respectively, talked about their organization’s successful efforts to recover $55,000 in unpaid wages over the past four years in Johnson County.
“Wage theft is one of the reasons people come to the center (located in Iowa City),” said Awan.
CWJ, which received $3,800 in local funds from CCHD in 2015, also helped to bring about community ID cards in Johnson County, which in turn allows people to open bank accounts, obtain library cards and access other important services. CWJ sends people to training seminars on how to advocate for the services they need and deserve. In addition, CWJ is working to empower families in a mobile home park who need to be relocated.
Leslie Kilgannon, QCI’s executive director, noted that the organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary. QCI, which received $5,000 in local CCHD funds in 2015, emerged in response to the 1980s agricultural industry crisis when people were losing their jobs and homes. “We empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” Kilgannon said. She observed the important role of relationship building in achieving the goals of empowerment and systemic change. Among QCI’s goals is to ensure high quality local jobs for women and minority populations in such occupations as highway and bridge construction. Kilgannon also talked about QCI’s success in helping to initiate a Mental Health Court pilot project in Scott County, which began July 1. The work that QCI does is focused on “people being empowered to change their own lives.”
(For more information about the CCHD collection, contact Loxi Hopkins at email@example.com) or call the Office of Social Action at (563) 888-4210).