Delivering Food, Shelter, and Hope to the Poorest of the Poor.

PR - 01.22.13

Contact: Tom Panas
(646) 707-3829

Senior Vatican Official to Visit Cross Catholic Outreach
Pontifical Council Cor Unum President Cardinal Robert Sarah Will Meet With Cross Catholic To Discuss Ongoing Collaborations Benefiting The Poor

Boca Raton, Florida (Thursday, January 7, 2013) — Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and the Vatican official charged with representing Pope Benedict XVI to Catholic charitable organizations, will visit Cross Catholic Outreach ( on January 25, 2013. The purpose of the Cardinal’s visit is to meet the ministry’s staff and to discuss Cor Unum’s collaboration with Cross Catholic Outreach on charitable projects being launched in developing nations overseas.

The Cardinal will first visit Boca Raton to discuss past and current collaborations.  At a luncheon there he will be joined by Cross Catholic Outreach President Jim Cavnar and Bishop of Palm Beach Gerald Barbarito.  Key staff members and supporters of Cross Catholic will also be invited.  Later, Cardinal Sarah will tour the ministry’s two South Florida offices and meet executives involved in the implementation of major projects being funded with more than $1,000,000 from Cross Catholic Outreach.

“We are very excited about the Cardinal’s visit,” Jim Cavnar said. “We are proud to be part of an unprecedented, official collaboration with Cor Unum.  I look forward to reviewing our progress to date and planning our charitable ventures for the coming year.  His visit is truly a blessing.”

Included on the meeting agenda will be a discussion of the rapid progress of the 2012 partnership to construct a health center in Kenya, Africa.  That medical outreach is nearing completion and will soon begin providing services to the poor families living in surrounding villages.  (Press Ctrl and click on this link to read Catholic News Service News Brief About Kenya Project).  Also to be discussed will be construction of 15 to 20 homes and a Catholic chapel in Guatemala, the building of a Catholic Church in Haiti and the selection of a future project to benefit needy families in a region of Latin America.

Additional details about all projects will be released immediately after the Cardinal’s visit.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is, according to the Vatican, “the Dicastery [‘department’] of the Holy See charged with the concrete realization of the charitable intention of the Holy Father.  Formed in 1971, Cor Unum means ‘one heart,’ and has as its mission ‘the care of the Catholic Church for the needy, thereby encouraging human fellowship and making manifest the charity of Christ.’  It is also responsible for orienting and coordinating the organizations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church.”

In a letter to Cross Catholic earlier this year, Cardinal Sarah wrote, “As President of the Vatican Dicastery responsible for His [the Holy Father’s] charitable solicitude, I wish to encourage the possibilities for aid that come from our collaboration with Cross Catholic Outreach. Such help is a most commendable expression of the Catholic Church's care for the poor and needy, making manifest the charity of Christ.” Press Ctrl and click on this link to read Cardinal Sarah's complete letter.

The deeply Catholic nature of Cross’s Catholic’s charitable outreach is also reflected in a section of the latest Motu Proprio letter from the Holy Father: Intima Ecclesiae Natura (On the Service of Charity).  “The service of charity is also a constitutive element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her being; all the faithful have the right and duty to devote themselves personally to living the new commandment that Christ left us and to offering our contemporaries not only material assistance but also refreshment and care for their souls.”  Press Ctrl and Click on this link for complete Motu Proprio letter.

Further emphasizing the Catholic nature of Cross Catholic’s charitable outreach and its relationship with the Pontifical Council Cor Unum is a document stating Cross Catholic’s Mission during the Year of Faith, prepared by Fr. Ron Mrozinski, Cross Catholic Associate Director, Clergy and Diocesan Relations.

       “Cross Catholic Outreach is a ‘lay society of the faithful’ founded to bring food, shelter, education, medical care, and hope to the poorest of the poor.  As a lay society of the faithful we strive to live out our baptismal commitment to Christ by being faithful to the Gospel, as interpreted by Catholic teaching.  We seek to live our faith, share our faith, and renew our faith in Christ continually.” Press Ctrl and click on this link for complete Year of Faith and Cross Catholic Mission Statement.


About Cross Catholic Outreach
Cross Catholic Outreach was founded in 2001 by Jim Cavnar and Brian Schutt.  Jim Cavnar is currently president and Brian Schutt is senior vice president.  Cross began by helping people suffering extreme poverty in Haiti and the Caribbean but has grown to include Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Cross Catholic Outreach recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.  In ten years, the ministry gave nearly a billion dollars of aid to the poor.

Direct Aid and Long-Term Support
Cross Catholic Outreach has provided food, clothing, shelter, medicine and other aid to people in more than 40 countries worldwide.  Cross accomplishes this by offering direct financial aid to Catholic ministries serving the poor and by distributing aid through the ministries’ programs. 

In addition to providing direct and often emergency aid, Cross also strives to break the cycle of poverty over the long term by supporting education, microenterprise programs and community development.

For example, one project in impoverished areas of the Philippines will help 1,000 poor families build profitable, faith-based businesses through microloans, low interest rates and weekly fellowship groups.

In Ethiopia, where women are often considered second-class citizens, Cross supports a program run by the Daughters of Charity that will help 70 women and girls from rural towns become financially self-sufficient through income-generation projects.

The fact that Cross works through its carefully established network of local priests, missionaries and churches ensures that assistance reaches those who need it most.  It also keeps administrative and fund-raising costs at an industry low: more than 94 percent of donations are used for program services.

Trending World Issues
Cross is involved in issues bubbling up in the news.  For example, water shortages and lack of clean water are being increasingly reported on.  A project in Cholle, Ethiopia is striving to bring clean water to 13,450 people whose drinking water is filled with bacteria and parasites. In Uganda, Cross is supporting a 13,208-gallon water reservoir to bring clean water to physically handicapped youths.

Why Cross Is Unique
Cross differs from other Catholic social outreach organizations in several ways.  For one, Cross is very project-driven. Fundraising is not a general appeal for funds but involves suggesting specific international projects to donors.  Most social outreach organizations collect money and distribute it as they choose. Cross links individual donors with projects by locating specific opportunities – for example, a house building effort in Kenya or a water project in Haiti – and then asking donors to give to these projects. 

Once a donor has chosen a project, Cross manages the use of the gift and provides detailed updates and a comprehensive final report when the work is done. Donors appreciate the sense of control that comes from knowing precisely how their donated funds are used.  Donors can make “Vision Trips” to projects they support and see the impact of their gifts first hand.

Cross is also different because it is “in it for the long haul” and often works with its partners over many years.  Many outreach organizations give short-term grants or fund one-time outreaches.  Cross, however, has partners in Haiti and Africa that have literally “grown up” with Cross.  As these partners reach new stages and require more help, Cross continues to assist them. 

Thus, good partners and valuable projects don’t have to struggle to overcome short-term funding.  Haiti and other countries are littered with closed programs – projects that were started with a 2 or 3-year grant from other organizations and were closed when the money ran out.  Cross developed its systems to avoid this waste and heartbreak.

Cross also stands apart with its unique management style.  Cross is very fast on its feet. An overseas partner can contact Cross with an emergency or dire need and get help in a few days.  Unlike many outreach organizations that have huge bureaucracies, Cross doesn’t require long, costly proposals that take up valuable time while people are suffering

The Importance of Prayer
Prayer is very important at Cross.  Everyone begins the day with prayer and Cross believes that the prayer of the poor is also key to their success.  Cross has encountered many miracle moments in which God seems to have moved through Cross in answer to the prayers of the poor generally and certain partners specifically. 

Cross Catholic Outreach is an official Catholic relief and development organization under the Diocese of Palm Beach. The ministry’s strong ethical practices have earned it ongoing accreditation by the International Catholic Stewardship Council and recognition from the Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of the most significant non-profit organizations in the U.S.  For more information about Cross Catholic, visit or call 561-392-9212.

Cross Catholic Outreach

2700 N. Military Trail, Suite 240

PO Box 273908

Boca Raton, Florida 33427-3908


Cross Catholic Outreach is a 501c3

CCO Background Stats 2016