An Ethiopian woman holds a baby.
Cross Catholic Outreach donors supported maternity and infant care in Ethiopia through our partnership with the Brothers of Good Works.

Faith, Hope and Charity in Action: Cross Catholic Outreach’s Year in Review

Can you believe it’s been 20 years?

When Cross Catholic Outreach was launched in 2001, we had one goal in mind: helping the poorest of the poor in developing countries for the glory of Jesus Christ. A lot has changed since those early days when we had a staff of four people. Still, we have never lost our dedication to our original vision and mission — and I believe Church-based missions around the world have benefited incredibly as a result.

Today, Cross Catholic Outreach is trusted as an official Catholic relief and development ministry, and through your support, we have been able to bless the poor with a combined $3.3 billion in aid. As I see it, these past two decades have been a testament to what can be achieved when like-minded Catholic partners come together with a common goal and an unswerving dedication to glorify God in words and deeds.

The 2021 fiscal year challenged Cross Catholic Outreach and our partners to be more innovative than ever before.

Together, we tackled the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the most active hurricane season on record, and the devastating global rise in extreme poverty. At a time dominated by negative headlines, God worked through our ministry to deliver his promises “for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

As you read on, you can learn more about the growth of our ministry and the many projects we took on in the 2021 fiscal year to bless our brothers and sisters in Christ. I especially encourage you to read through the full text of an Apostolic Blessing imparted by His Holiness Pope Francis in recognition of Cross Catholic Outreach, our overseas partners and supportive friends like you.

READ: A Message From Cross Catholic Outreach’s Chairman, Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg

Map of the world.
During the 2021 fiscal year, Cross Catholic Outreach provided grants and material aid to ministries in 32 countries.

Our 2021 Fiscal Year Impact

The Catholic Church responds to times of crisis with the fearless compassion of Christ. During 2021, Cross Catholic Outreach extended the Church’s impact by supporting global poverty relief programs, the Box of Joy® ministry and U.S. outreach initiatives.

Thanks to faithful friends like you,

  • 32 countries received our aid.
  • 318 projects supported.
  • 4.61% of expenses used for overhead costs.
  • $334,319,813 in total aid provided to the poor.

LEARN MORE: Cross Catholic Outreach’s Impact Around the Globe.

Here is a sampling of our 2021 accomplishments made possible through your generosity:

AGRICULTURE

Provided grants to 17 projects in 8 countries.
Trained 7,078 people to improve crop yields.

MEDICAL

Provided grants to 95 projects in 16 countries.
Shipped $1,325,28 in COVID-19 prevention supplies to 7 countries.

DISASTER RELIEF

Provided grants to 28 projects in 11 countries.
Shipped $17,145,443 in aid in response to 6 hurricanes and one volcanic eruption.

microfinance

MICROENTERPRISE

Provided grants to 19 projects in 8 countries.
Empowered 176 families with $76,785 in microloans.

EDUCATION

Provided grants to 90 projects in 16 countries.
Blessed 4,531 students with academic scholarships.

VULNERABLE CHILDREN

Provided grants to 31 projects in 9 countries.
Protected 2,504 children with anti-trafficking programs.

FOOD

Provided grants to 92 projects in 18 countries.
Filled stomachs with 20,592,416 Vitafood meals.

SPIRITUAL OUTREACH

Provided grants to 13 projects in 7 countries.
Reached 4,925 people with religious community support.

HOUSING

Provided grants to 22 projects in 11 countries.
Built, repaired or upgraded 391 homes for 2,270 people.

WATER

Provided grants to 39 projects in 12 countries.
Blessed 96,417 people with clean, safe water.

Country Spotlights

Let’s look at a few of our ministry partners that — through your generosity — have made an incredible impact in the lives of the poor in Guatemala, Mozambique and Kenya. These partnerships highlight what the Church and its people can accomplish through the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

READ: A Vision of Transformation: 20 Years of Cross Catholic Outreach

A Guatemalan girl eats a plate of rice.
Zaida Lopez, 13, eats a protein-rich Vitafood meal in Guatemala’s Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu.

Faith and Food: Community Transformation in Guatemala

Partner Name: Caritas Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu

Location: The Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu, home to a growing Catholic community on Guatemala’s southwest Pacific coast.

Accomplishments:

  • Families were blessed with 835,020 protein-rich meals to fight the immediate threat of malnutrition.
  • 200 families received agriculture training and support to grow herbs, vegetables and citrus trees.
  • The diocese broke ground on a new poverty relief center, including a 4,300-square-foot distribution center to store large shipments of food and supplies.

In rural Guatemala, a profound transformation is underway. It’s evident everywhere you look: Babies who once cried out in hunger now have chubby cheeks; expectant mothers no longer have to skip meals; neighbors radiate joy as they share food with those in need.

For Catarino Solis, a community leader in the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu, this transformation goes beyond healthy meals. He sees faith in action as families look forward to each day with the love of Christ in their hearts.

“I thank God and Cross Catholic Outreach,” said Catarino. “I had always heard the word ‘solidarity’ but never experienced it. Now I believe in that word.”

In 2021, Cross Catholic Outreach laid the foundation for community transformation, our approach to integral human development. Community transformation is effective because it addresses both material and spiritual needs — or, as St. Paul VI described it, “foster[ing] the development of each man and of the whole man” (Populorum progressio, 1967).

Working alongside the local bishop, we activated a multistage plan to empower our brothers and sisters, beginning with the critical need for food. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, priests and parish leaders in this Guatemalan diocese personally delivered food baskets to 914 families. This was part of our global food outreach that fed 111,101 people worldwide through community feeding programs, demonstrating God’s love in a tangible way.

LEARN MORE: Addressing Poverty in Rural Guatemala With Food and Faith

Smiling girls from Mozambique.
Your support of children in Mozambique has empowered them to embrace the joys of childhood.

Hope and Housing: Safe Shelter in Mozambique

Partner Name: Association Cross Mozambique (ACM)

Location: Mozambique’s largest city, Maputo, near South Africa and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).

Accomplishments:

  • ACM built and rehabilitated homes for 22 people, including widows, orphans and families touched by HIV/AIDS.
  • Beneficiaries included three orphans whose mother died just three days after Christmas in 2020.
  • In addition to safe housing, ACM met vulnerable children’s needs with education, preventive health care, Bible study and food baskets.

Our partners in Mozambique battled a double pandemic in 2021 — COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. In the 40 years since AIDS emerged, the virus has decimated an entire generation of Mozambicans, and nearly one in three children are parentless as a result. In the slums of Maputo, children orphaned by AIDS must fend for themselves, often working odd jobs to survive.

Yet in the midst of this tragic situation, God delivered hope to Maputo’s orphans, lifting them out of the shadows and into the light of his face.

In 2021, Cross Catholic Outreach partnered with ACM to build homes and restore hope to vulnerable children and families. ACM is run by Doroteia Balane, a woman who feels called by the Lord to be a mother to the motherless children in her community.

“I am so happy because I am doing the job that I like, looking for people who are suffering and helping the children who need a mother,” Doroteia said. “Always I am asking God to give me a long life in order to use me for helping people in need.”

With the support of faithful U.S. Catholics, Cross Catholic Outreach built, repaired and upgraded 391 homes across three continents — representing an 18.8% increase from our 2020 housing program. The safe and sanitary living conditions of these new and repaired homes empower families to seize a brighter future — and finally rest in the comfort of the Lord.

LEARN MORE: Understanding Mozambique’s Orphan Crisis and How You Can Help

A Kenyan Catholic priest joins people at a water kiosk.
Father Fabian Hevi (center) is grateful for friends like you who’ve blessed Kenyans with the gift of clean, safe water.

Charity and Clean Water: Quenching Thirst in Kenya

Partner Name: Good Samaritan Water Sanitation Services

Location: The Archdiocese of Mombasa and the Diocese of Machakos in southern Kenya.

Accomplishments:

  • Father Fabian Hevi and Good Samaritan Water Sanitation Services installed 10 community water systems to serve poor families and communities.
  • A total of 67,177 people were blessed with the gift of clean, abundant water.
  • In Tawa, Kenya, Mass attendance grew 550% following the installation of a community water system.

Charity, or love put in action, is the virtue that allows us to fulfill Christ’s new commandment: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). In many parts of the developing world, the gift of clean, abundant water is truly a gift of Christ’s charity.

In Kenya’s remote villages, impoverished women and children must wake up before dawn and walk miles to the nearest water source. Unfortunately, the water they spend hours collecting is often contaminated and can transmit waterborne illnesses and parasites.

That’s why Cross Catholic Outreach’s support had such a profound impact! We partnered with Fr. Fabian and Good Samaritan Water Sanitation Services to build community water systems and dramatically change lives in two Kenyan dioceses. Suddenly, health risks families had lived with for generations vanished, and the precious hours of the day they had lost to water collection were restored to them.

There are other marks of success too. With their health and time restored, poor families have a chance to focus on faith formation, education and increasing their incomes — all ventures that can help them break the cycle of poverty.

In addition to providing safe, clean water, Cross Catholic Outreach supported 339 community trainings in 10 countries on water, sanitation and hygiene. These trainings enhanced these families’ lives by preventing the spread of waterborne diseases, which are particularly dangerous to young children and the elderly.

LEARN MORE: Catholics Unite to End Water Crisis for 10 Kenyan Communities

A family prepares a meal pack.
Families gathered at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Parish in The Woodlands, Texas, to pack 60,042 meals for hungry children and families in developing countries.

Our U.S.-Based Operations

In addition to blessing poor and marginalized families around the world, Cross Catholic Outreach is dedicated to growing faith in the United States through several important outreaches with Catholic schools, parishes and organizations.

Mobilizing Catholics With the Courage of Saint Joseph

In his apostolic letter Patris Corde, Pope Francis declared 2021 the Year of St. Joseph. In the face of so many global challenges, Jesus’ earthly father inspired U.S. Catholics to protect the vulnerable through acts of service. Parishes, schools and Knights of Columbus councils across the country rallied families to partner with Cross Catholic Outreach to bless the poor and inspire solidarity.

  • Faithful U.S. Catholics safely gathered and packed 238,464 meals for families in developing countries.
  • Volunteers blessed 61,422 children in seven countries with Christmas gifts through our Box of Joy

We also served families here at home. In 2021, we launched virtual and in-person retreats to encourage U.S. Catholics to lean on the intercessions of St. Joseph, become more attuned to God’s plans and discern what is important in the life of faith.

Guatemalan children pose with their thumbs up.
Children in Guatemala’s Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima look forward to a brighter future thanks to faithful friends like you.

Our Work Is Just Beginning

Let me extend my deepest gratitude to everyone who has linked arms with us throughout our ministry’s 20 years of service — including our ministry partners in the field, our dedicated staff of religious and lay workers, and our faithful benefactors. I also ask for your continued prayers. They will be critical as our ministry pursues new ventures in the decades to come.

Together, let us build up the Kingdom of God!