Director of CCHD looks for ways to solve issues

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

Ralph McCloud, the director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development, had what he called "a whirlwind" visit to St. Louis from Sept. 10 to Sept. 13.

He spoke with Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, St. Charles Lwanga Center executive director Father Art Cavitt and others in a series of meetings to identify the archdiocese's financial needs as it responds to the violence -- what he called "this sad situation in Ferguson" -- in the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"The reality of what we see here is a need for folks to do things a little bit different, to step up our efforts as brothers and sisters in a way that we can come together," he said in a breakfast meeting Sept. 12 at the Cardinal Rigali Center. "The Campaign for Human Development holds itself out to be heavy, heavy, heavy on relationships ... so a group people of different races can come together in a parish basement and talk about issues and concerns, and look for ways to solve them."

McCloud praised Archbishop Carlson, who called for ending "systemic racism" -- in his homily at the Votive Mass for Peace and Justice on Aug. 20.

"I'm so grateful that the archbishop has made an effort to have a conversation about how to dismantle racism," said McCloud, who noted that the USCCB sees racism as "a sin that divides the entire human family."

Funded by a special collection in November, the Campaign for Human Development awards about $11 million a year to groups across the country working in low-income communities, whether for economic development, job training or micro-incubators. According to McCloud, the campaign has awarded about $400 million to some 9,000 organizations since its inception 45 years ago, on the heels of the race riots in 1968. He said the Archdiocese of St. Louis has received $1.5 million in aid in that time, roughly half of the grant amounts in Missouri.

The only stipulation for receiving a grant is that half of the people served by an organization must be low-income.

"They must be the voice of the organization; they understand, as do the bishops, how to build up their community and families," he said, adding that numerous people have pulled themselves up by "their proverbial bootstraps" in improving their lives through the campaign. "There's story after story about how lives have been changed and impacted."

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