All life is “a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all,” Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’. Development & Peace will use the encyclical to help raise funds for its Share Lent campaign this year. CNS photo/Pavel Mikheyev, Reuters

D&P ready for tough Share Lent campaign

By 
  • February 12, 2021

This year Development and Peace knows what it’s up against. 

Last year COVID-19 hit in the middle of Lent, torpedoing the annual Share Lent campaign. Carefully rehearsed appeals Development and Peace members would have made to parishioners on the fifth Sunday of Lent never saw the light of day. The baskets that would have collected envelopes full of cash and cheques remained tucked under the back row of pews.

Canada’s Catholic development agency tried to shift gears, go digital and make its appeals online. But they weren’t prepared.

This year Development and Peace’s 10,000 members across Canada are being encouraged to create personal fundraising pages using the organization’s “Spreading Solidarity” platform. A different aspect of Development and Peace’s work will be explored each week on the Share Lent campaign website. An e-newsletter is going out weekly. A virtual Way of the Cross is ready for Good Friday.

The theme is basic and simple. “Share Love Share Lent” is the tagline on posters, flyers and newsletters. But the secret sauce is Pope Francis, explained Development and Peace deputy director Luke Stocking.

Fratelli Tutti and Laudato Si’ (encyclicals) and the message and vision of Pope Francis are helping us to connect with and inform a new generation, to provide real roots for the next 50 years of the organization,” said Stocking.

When the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace launched in 1967 its touchstones were the renewal of the Church launched by the Second Vatican Council, the council’s central document, Gaudium et Spes, and St. Pope Paul VI’s ringing endorsement of a post-colonial future in Populorum Progressio.

When Stocking speaks with young people today, he finds few of them have a strong grasp of the council of 1962 to 1965, which may pre-date their parents.

“But they know about Laudato Si’, they know about caring for our common home. They know about Pope Francis,” he said.

Online campaigning is simply not the same as in-person fundraising and Development and Peace is prepared for a down year.

“We’re looking at potential losses of $3 to $4 million from the usual Share Lent campaign.”

But the organization is also emerging from a painful period of tension with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

“There’s increased levels of trust,” Stocking said.

Money is always a mystery, but Development and Peace’s prayers are a sure thing.

The Canadian arm of the global Caritas network will propose Sunday morning prayers of the faithful for peacemakers, for humanitarian workers, for protectors of the Earth and for human rights defenders.

On the fifth Sunday of Lent, Development and Peace will pray for its partners around the world: “May they continue, through our support, to build a world of kindness, justice and peace.”

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