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Women at the heart of D&P Lent campaign

By Michael Swan
The Catholic Register


TORONTO (CCN) — The next $8 million Development and Peace raises will be in the name of women.

The 50th Share Lent campaign for Canada’s Catholic solidarity organization has been launched under the theme of “Women at the Heart of Change.”

The money goes primarily to fund the work of about 100 partner organizations in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East — partners whom the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace support as the pathway to help some of the poorest people on Earth recover from natural disasters, find new ways of making a living or hold often corrupt and autocratic governments to account.

Raising money for international development in the name of women makes perfect sense, said Mary Hess, a visiting scholar at the University of St. Michael’s College faculty of theology.

“There is a growing consciousness, globally, that if you educate girls and women you make huge impact on communities,” said Hess. “When you focus on women and girls, when you put money there, it trickles up.”

Catholic feminism has to begin with a poor woman working in a field in Bolivia, a refugee woman taking her children from Syria into Lebanon, a Filipina demanding basic sanitation and education for her children, said Hess.

“We (Catholics) can talk about the fact that Our Lady appeared to indigenous peasant folk in Mexico,” said Hess. “She is just like Jesus, hanging out with people who are marginalized and vulnerable. It’s not just about being reminded. It’s about recognizing that there we find the heart of the Gospel.”

The Share Lent tradition of poor people telling their own stories will be carried forward in this year’s campaign by visitors from Haiti, Colombia and Syria, representatives of Development and Peace partner organizations who will visit parishes across Canada to talk about their work.

As part of the international Caritas network of over 160 Catholic humanitarian organizations, Development and Peace has based its campaign on a May 2016 prayer by Pope Francis “that in all countries of the world, women may be honoured and respected and highly esteemed for their essential contribution to society.”

The campaign officially launched March 1. In many parts of the country, Development and Peace members will be invited during Sunday masses on April 2 to appeal for contributions to a special Share Lent collection.

The Archdiocese of Toronto’s contribution to Development and Peace is determined by the board of its ShareLife campaign.

In the last half-century, Development and Peace has invested $600 million in over 15,000 projects around the globe.

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