JustFaith program fires up participant to do more for those in poverty


Contributing writer

At age 75, Evelyn Duffin is “fired up.”

Duffin, who lives in Waterloo and attends St. Patrick Catholic Church in Tipton, has completed her second JustFaith Series online program about poverty and now is actively looking for more ways to help those in need.

She is so excited about what Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is doing that she was one of many presenters to give talks about CCHD at parishes in the Diocese of Belleville this month.

“I thought I was knowledgeable about Catholic social teaching. What I learned through the Faith and Justice programs was eye opening,” Duffin says.

The second eight-session program of the JustFaith Catholic series, “Faith and Poverty: A Solidarity Response” explores local poverty and introduces participants to the tips and tools they need to respond.

One of the books they read as part of the program was “Beyond Empowerment: A Pilgrimage with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development” by Jeffry Odell Korgen. Each chapter features a different CCHD program.

“Attending this series has helped me focus my response as a Catholic for the people living in poverty,” Duffin says.

“I also had no idea CCHD has so many programs and grants to give,” she adds.

She says after much self-examination, she now wants to do more.

“I need to change my own behavior,” she says. “I need to examine my own personal response to my brothers and sisters who are not doing so well.”

Although Duffin already volunteers to make meals at a St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen, is an animator for Catholic Relief Services, and teaches those with disabilities about food service and cooking through a program in Waterloo, she feels she wasn’t pushing herself. She also works part-time as a housekeeper at the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France in downtown St. Louis.

She’s hoping to get involved with Catholic Urban Programs and Welcome Neighbor STL.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has a variety of programs nationally and locally to fight poverty.

“It’s amazing. They do so much good,” Duffin says. “They look to the future, farther down the road, to find permanent solutions for problems. Immediate needs are addressed, but they do more than a Band-Aid fix. They look for a cure.”

Established in 1970, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, working to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ “… to bring glad tidings to the poor …  liberty to captives …  sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:18)

The belief that those who are directly affected by unjust systems and structures have the best insight into knowing how to change them is central to CCHD.

CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities. It offers a hand up, not a handout.

CCHD is made possible by the generous support of Catholics in the United States, especially through an annual parish collection, which is happening Nov. 19 and 20.

Cheryl Sommer, CCHD director for the Diocese of Belleville, says 25 percent of the CCHD collection automatically stays in the diocese to be used as seed money for economic and community development initiatives just starting out.

“This seed money that we give through local grants helps fledgling initiatives to get ready for the larger national CCHD grants,” Sommer says. “Our diocese, where there is so much poverty, receives more back in national poverty alleviation grants than we send to the USCCB office.”

For more information about CCHD nationally, visit usccb.org/committees/catholic-campaign-human-development.

For more information about CCHD in the Diocese of Belleville, visit diobelle.org/catholic-charities/cchd/119-catholic-campaign-for-human-development-cchd or contact Cheryl Sommer, CCHD diocesan director, at [email protected].

For more information about Faith and Poverty: A Solidarity Response, visit justfaith.org/faith-and-poverty-a-solidarity-response-jfc/