Washington, D.C. -- Three members of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities will join with a delegation of three U.S. bishops and one American Cardinal who will visit South Africa August 27- September 5, 2009.

The delegation will also include four senior staff members of the United States Conference of Bishops.

The group is undertaking the visit in connection with the work of the Solidarity Fund for Africa program of the Catholic Church in the United States. The program aims to provide pastoral aid to the rapidly growing Catholic churches in African nations.

The delegation is expected to visit rural parishes, refugee camps, hospitals and medical treatment clinics working with HIV/AIDS patients, as well as other sites where pastoral care among the poor is offered through Catholic ministries.

The Solidarity Fund for Africa program was inaugurated in 2007 and is rapidly expanding its base of support among Catholic archdioceses and dioceses throughout the United States through a parish- based collection and, it is hoped, funding partnerships with private foundations and other donors interested in the future of the church in the fifty-three nation continent of Africa.

African Catholicism is growing at a breathtaking pace and numbers about one quarter of the entire Catholic population of the globe. Too often, the church’s pastoral mission within many countries of Africa is mired in abject poverty, political instability, famine, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

While seminaries and religious communities burst at the seams with new members, lack of financial resources and external aid leaves the churches in Africa sorely incapacitated. Parishes often lack trained catechists and outreach ministries and parish schools strain to meet the most basic needs.

With many of its membership experienced in the support of church-related projects in Africa, FADICA and the chairman of the USCCB Solidarity Fund for Africa Committee met in June, 2007, in Washington, D.C. to explore ways in which funders and others might work together to expand awareness of the new and important campaign linking American Catholics with Catholics in Africa.

Among the many suggestions made during that conference was to undertake several visits to the countries of Africa offering both the U.S. bishops and private funders the opportunity to see firsthand the work of the campaign and the priority pastoral needs on the ground.

Included in the delegation for the Aug-Sept visit are: Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, of Washington, D.C. Bishop John H. Ricard, of Pensacola Tallahassee, Committee Chair, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City.

FADICA’s President, Francis J. Butler, Carolina Robinson, and Leanne Raskob of the Delaware –based Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities will be among representatives from the Catholic philanthropic sector joining the bishops for the South African visit.

Among the USCCB staff are: Patrick A. Markey, Director of National Collections; John K. Appleby and Anastasia Brown of the Office for Migration and Refugee Services, in addition to Stephen Hilber of the Office of International Justice and Peace. Fritz Zugar, a consultant to the USCCB, will also accompany the group.