PORTLAND — In an effort to promote solidarity throughout the hemisphere by providing support for pastoral projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Diocese of Portland will hold a special collection at all weekend Masses in Maine churches on the weekend of Jan. 22-23. Last year, even at the height of the pandemic, dioceses across the country raised nearly $6 million that were distributed to 334 ministries in Mexico, Central/South America, and the Caribbean.

All the proceeds support evangelization, catechesis, marriage and family ministry, pro-life work, youth ministry, prison ministry, pastoral outreach, and formation for clergy, religious, and lay leaders. The collection also funds the creation and implementation of safe environment/child protection programs in the Latin American dioceses that are supported by the fund.

“I have seen first-hand the good that the continuing generosity of the faithful in the United States has accomplished throughout the world and particularly in Latin America,” said Pope Francis. “The collection remains a precious means of sustaining, both spiritually and temporally, the efforts of the local churches of Latin America and the Caribbean to proclaim the Gospel and to form missionary disciples imbued with zeal for the spread of God’s Kingdom of justice, holiness, and peace.”

“Pope Francis has called us to share the love and the joy of the Gospel with those who are poor, suffering, or marginalized. When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributions to this collection helped to support his ministry to the people in the city’s poorest neighborhoods,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Brooklyn and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “This collection makes a significant impact in lives of our brothers and sisters in Latin America.”

In 1965, during the last session of the Second Vatican Council, the bishops of the United States approved the creation of an annual national collection to support economic aid to pastoral projects of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean. Aid is provided to pastoral projects in 25 countries, with special priority given to evangelization and catechetical programs as well as mission-related activities that promote an encounter with Jesus and help us to respond to his call to be disciples.

For more information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, please visit www.usccb.org/committees/church-latin-america.