The Oregon Catholic Church is encouraging parishioners to donate generously for the 2009 Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe on Ash Wednesday, February 25. The theme of this year’s collection is “Believe in the Power of the Spirit of Love,” and is part of a national collection effort. As a result of devastating oppression triggered by years of wars, radical Communism and horrific crimes against humanity, the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have faced decades of hardship and suffering.
Under Communism, organized religion was opposed in favor of atheism due to the threat of the Russian Orthodox Church as perceived by the Soviet regime. The Catholic Church was greatly weakened during this time. Church leaders were killed or imprisoned. Followers were persecuted and churches and monasteries were destroyed.
Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, central and eastern European countries have been working tirelessly to rebuild political structures, social welfare programs and economies. At the same time, bishops of the region are faced with the daunting task of rebuilding both church structures and restoring the spiritual center of their communities. The Collection aids them in these endeavors.
Last year, parishioners in the Portland Archdiocese contributed over $28,000 to support the Collection and helped to fund over 340 critical projects in 28 countries, including Albania, Bosnia, Georgia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic. The collections are used to grant monies for rebuilding and restoring church structures, developing education and social services programs and materials, training priests and religious teachers, and establishing mass media and communications channels.
The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe provides a crucial opportunity for Catholics throughout the United States to express hope, support and compassion with those whose faith has endured through great suffering and hardship.
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