Images from the Third World flash across the TV screen followed by a plea for help to sponsor a child.

The sponsoring agency is either secular or evangelical. Moved by what you see, and a desire to help, you take down the number and wonder why the Catholic church is not offering the opportunity to sponsor a child.

This was the experience I had when I began to search for a Catholic child sponsorship agency, an agency in which I could place my trust as well as my money.

I discovered a little known group called the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging.

CFCA, as it is called, was founded in 1981 by two religious missionaries on their return home. Since its founding, it has become the largest Catholic sponsorship agency in North America, supporting mission sites in more than 23 countries around the world.

It is also the fastest growing agency, with more than 100 per cent growth in Canada and another 60 per cent growth in the United States.

Most of this growth is due to the hard work of CFCA’s office workers and the weekend preaching of a number of priest and deacons who offer five or six weekends each year to speak on behalf of the poor. For many, it fulfils part of their missionary calling. Jesus proclaimed, using the words of Isaiah, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”

Without leaving their work at home, these priests and deacons reach out across the miles to help other Catholic missionaries in their struggle to fight poverty in the developing world.

Whether it is good or bad, a speaker discovers directly after Mass if he has effectively delivered his message in a meaningful way.

The number of sponsors, the people’s comments, the remarks of the parish priest all help the deacon or priest to know how he has done and how he might improve.

Preaching, under these conditions, is exciting and offers an enjoyable challenge.

After all, it is not often that our priests and deacons can feel their preaching makes a real difference in someone’s life while meeting new friends across the country.

(Fr. Cosgrove works for the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging in Springhill)