COLORADO SPRINGS. Ralph McCloud, who has directed the Catholic Campaign for Human Development for the past nine years, will be the keynote speaker at “A Cup of Water,” the Catholic social action gathering that will take place on Sept. 15 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at St. Peter Parish in Monument. The conference is sponsored by Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is an anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The campaign distributes about $11 million annually to community organizations and economic development programs that benefit low-income people.
Prior to working for the USCCB, McCloud was Director of Pastoral and Community Services for the Diocese of Fort Worth in Texas. He also served as Director of African-American ministry for the diocese and was president of the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators.
In addition, McCloud served four terms on the Fort Worth City Council — from 1997-2005 — and served three terms as Mayor Pro Tempore. After retiring from the city council, he served as chairman of the first homeless commission in Tarrant County and was given the first Racial Reconciliation Award from the Tarrant Area Community of Churches.
In his talk at St. Peter in Monument on Sept. 15, McCloud will address homelessness and lack of affordable housing, he said. Both problems are on the rise due to gentrification and the phenomenon of people abandoning rural communities in search of employment, educational opportunities, and amenities such as grocery stores, he said.
McCloud noted that wages have been stagnant for decades despite the fact that unemployment is down, and many families have two or more jobs, causing family dysfunction.
“Lack of opportunity plagues urban communities as violence and strife create a never-ending cycle of poverty, family abuse, youth gang activity, community despair and overall disinvestment,” he said. “Incarceration rates are down, but ex-offenders are often released into areas where opportunity is lacking and the odds of re-offending are high.”
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development supports projects that enable people to change their circumstances, McCloud said.
For example, one organization in Chicago called the Metropolitan Tenants Organization reversed unhealthy living conditions through tenant-landlord collaboration.
“A Cup of Water” will begin at 8:30 a.m. with Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Sheridan. McCloud’s keynote address will begin at 9:45 a.m. in the school. The talk will be followed by several breakout sessions. Cost to attend is $10, which includes lunch. For more details and to register, visit www.ccharitiescc.org/cup-of-water/ or contact Corey Almond at 719-866-6510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Corey Almond is Vice President of Community and Parish engagement for Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.)