The Diocesan Campaign for Justice and Hope (DCJH) is an effort by the Diocese of Springfield of Illinois under the direction of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki to promote justice and hope for the poor. DCJH puts into practice Catholic teaching on life and dignity of every human person and the Gospel command to care for “the least of these” (Matthew 25). Drawing inspiration from the Corporal Works of Mercy, DCJH seeks to address the systemic injustices that contribute to poverty in our diocese and to provide financial support for local programs and organizations that give realistic hope for the poor to break out of the cycle of poverty through effective and efficient interventions. Furthermore, DCJH will assist in protecting life at all stages with an emphasis on the unborn by helping pregnant women to have hope for the future of their children and their lives. A stable family life in a home with a married mother and father is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty and give children hope for their future.
DCJH also desires to transform the way we think about poverty. As such, education will also be an important component of the Diocesan Campaign for Justice and Hope. Poverty is not a concept or a statistic, but a daily reality for millions of Americans. Every day, in the wealthiest nation on earth, people suffer from hunger, sleep on the streets, cannot afford medications for their illnesses or live in fear of domestic and community violence. As Catholics we are taught to seek out – not to avoid - the poor. We are taught, through the example of Jesus, that we are all God’s children and worthy of love, dignity and respect.
Why the Diocesan Campaign for Justice and Hope?
With a population of over 1.1 million inhabitants, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has tens of thousands of people “in our midst” living in poverty. DCJH seeks to shed light on this reality and give Catholics an opportunity to fulfill their moral obligation to reach out in solidarity to those who are suffering and lacking basic human necessities. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “the more we strive for a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them.” Like all Catholic ministries, the Diocesan Campaign for Justice and Hope reaches out to the broader community, helping people seeking to overcome poverty without regard to their race, ethnicity or religion.
Through a structured grant application process, the DCJH will allocate funds to organizations and projects that can demonstrate a focus on changing and improving the conditions of low-income people in the Springfield Diocese. Grantees will be held accountable for the funds they receive through routine reporting and they must maintain a diocesan or parish affiliation. DCJH will not fund organizations that engage in activities that conflict with Catholic teaching on human life and dignity, that promote abortion or euthanasia, undermine the family or tolerate racism or unjust discrimination. Recommendations for grant awards will be made to Bishop Paprocki by the Diocesan Campaign for Justice and Hope Committee on an annual basis. An annual parish collection will be conducted the weekend before Thanksgiving to provide the funding for this initiative.