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Transforming poor: not only materially and socially, but also spiritually


As a college student, Jim Cavnar was deeply impacted by a prayer retreat, hearing a call that manifested itself in door-to-door dorm room evangelization. Decades later, he now heads a non-profit that aims to be a steadfast witness to the Gospel for those who need it most. 

JIM CAVNAR
President, Cross Catholic Outreach
“The world is full of an awful lot of bad news nowadays, but to me, the happy news, the good news is found among the poor. It's found where the Church is truly being itself as a source of life, of hope.”

Cross Catholic Outreach (CCO) is a Florida-based ministry committed to both relief and development, the latter of which distinguishes it from many other charities.

Rather than providing short-term missionaries or funding before moving on to the next project, CCO builds long-term relationships with local institutions to ensure more than just physical help. 

JIM CAVNAR
President, Cross Catholic Outreach
“The essence of it is that we need to work for the transformation of the poor – not only materially and socially, but spiritually. When those come together, then we see the real transformation.”

Although CCO is a private organization, its mission is closely aligned with that of the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Thus, it's one of the body's principle American collaborators. 

Now present in close to 40 developing countries, the ministry's impact is global. Cavnar shares numerous anecdotes of first-hand experiences, like this reflection from people in Kenya. 

JIM CAVNAR
President, Cross Catholic Outreach
“'Your God seems to care about us, because He sends you and others to help us. Tell us about your God.' They're flooding into the Church, getting baptized and their kids beginning to go to the Catholic school because of the witness of love and the engagement of sharing with them.”

Cavnar says the next step is expanding outreach as well as telling more stories like this one, giving tangible evidence of the Holy Father's vision at work.