Although Latin America as a whole is described as a ‘Catholic continent,’ Uruguay, the second smallest country in Latin America, actually has a long secular history behind it. In the 19th century, all public expression of religion was banned, banished to the private sphere, and the secularist government of the day engaged in numerous deliberate provocations against the Catholic Church. For example, on Good Friday– for Catholics a day of strict fasting and abstinence – the government would deliberately offer free barbecues for all the population.
Ever since 1917, there has been a strict separation of Church and State, formally enshrined in the Constitution. No religious festivals are acknowledged in the public calendar. It is not surprising, then, that not even half the population of 3.3 million people declare themselves Catholics today.
As a result, the Church struggles to maintain itself without outside support. The statutory requirements imposed by the state for the maintenance of Church properties are extremely high. Meanwhile, most priests live on the bare minimum. Consequently, your Mass stipends are of enormous help to them.
The Diocese of Tacuarembo lies in the northern-central part of the country and covers an area of close to 9,300 square miles. It has 20 priests who minister to some 100,000 Catholic faithful in 16 far-flung parishes, with a total of 85 churches and chapels and a number of different charitable institutions as well. The area is sparsely inhabited and the faithful live widely dispersed.
We are therefore planning to help these 20 priests with Mass stipends, to a total value of $10,600. This works out to about $500 per priest for an entire year.
Will you give a stipend to have a Mass said by a poor priest in Uruguay?
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.