NEW BRUNSWICK, SEPT 9 - The central New Jersey office of a national Catholic anti-poverty program is setting aside all its reserve funds for strategic grants providing economic and community development opportunities for African-Americans who live within the territory of the Diocese of Metuchen.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (usccb.org/cchd) is the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Community, providing hundreds of grants each year to at-risk groups in the country. On Sept. 9, the U.S. Bishops called for a special day of prayer and fasting to highlight the need for peace in communities after a string of violent events in cities across the United States this summer.
At an ecumenical prayer service in New Brunswick Sept 9, Monsignor Joseph Kerrigan, CCHD director for the Diocese of Metuchen, announced the establishment of the “Bishop Joseph Durick Fund for African-American Development.” Bishop Durick, who died in 1994, was a Catholic bishop in Alabama and a recipient of the famous “letter from a Birmingham jail” written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in response to resistance to the civil rights movement from Alabama clergy. Chastened by the letter, the bishop experienced a conversion and soon after began to champion the movement. At the time of Dr. King’s death in Memphis in 1968, Bishop Durick was the bishop of Nashville, then covering all of Tennessee, and he participated in a memorial for Dr. King and continued his work in many ways.
“Aligning this special set of funds with Bishop Durick is a reminder to our Catholic community and all people of good will that we Catholics may come late and unremarkably to the struggle for racial harmony,” said Msgr. Kerrigan, “but as the middle-aged Bishop Durick showed, along with a more recent example of Georgetown University reconciling its own unsavory past, it’s never “too little, too late” to express God’s mercy.”
CCHD local grants are aimed at startup groups who have a vision for institutional change in either the economic or community development realms. “The grant criteria are stringent applications of Catholic Social Doctrine,” said Msgr. Kerrigan, “but it’s very exciting when someone can meet them and succeed.”
The Bishop Durick funds are available to Catholic and non-Catholic groups alike. “The grants are really more intended for the idealistic teenager or young adult who really wants to change their world racially,” said Msgr. Kerrigan, “more than a social service agency that’s just looking for a clever way to make up for a budget shortfall.” Bishop Durick grants are available at any level from $3,000 to 15,000. Bishop Durick Grant recipients will be announced April 4 2017 (the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) For more information about these local CCHD grants, contact Mgr. Kerrigan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or assistant CCHD director Michael Martini (email@example.com).