Catholic Home Missions
The Catholic Home Missions Appeal is the last weekend in April. Thank you for your generous support!
In home mission diocese throughout the United States, there is a serious need for priestly formation in order to build vibrant parish communities. The cost to educate one seminarian in a home mission diocese is roughly $30,000. In an average grant cycle, 18-20% of the funds collected for the Catholic Home Missions Appeal go toward seminarian education. Last year, the Appeal enabled the home mission diocese of Biloxi to support 100% of the expenses of educating 12 seminarians. These future priests will be invaluable, as 11 priests are currently retired and several more are eligible for retirement in the next few years.
The annual appeal is the primary source of funding for grants from the USCCB Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. In the United States, 44 percent of all dioceses andeparchies currently receive support from the Appeal for basic and essential pastoral programs such as evangelization, catechesis, seminary formation, and lay leadership training.
"Many Catholics in the United States don't realize how many dioceses are struggling, often right next door," said Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, chairman of the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. "Once appointed bishop of Superior, I became painfully aware that my former parish budget and staff were more than double the operations of the entire diocese I now serve." Grants from the Catholic Home Missions Appeal help support 84 struggling dioceses and strengthen the Church here at home.
The needs of mission dioceses are diverse. For instance, the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee covers 18 counties in the Florida panhandle; three counties do not have a resident priest, and one county does not have a Catholic church. Vast physical distances, a rocky economy and a highly diverse ethnic population are also challenges. The Catholic Home Missions Appeal helps the diocese provide support for programs in 57 parishes and missions.
The Diocese of Tyler, in east Texas, has grown tremendously since it was established in 1987. Beginning with 40 active priests, there are now 90 priests, 15 seminarians, 40 vowed religious women and more than 100 deacons. The Catholic Home Missions Appeal assists the diocese in seminary education and vocation ministries to serve in rural, low-income parishes.
These are just two examples of how dioceses can benefit from the Catholic Home Missions Appeal.
More information on the Catholic Home Missions Appeal and the projects it funds can be found at www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/catholic-home-missions-appeal/
The Fairbanks Diocese faces many challenges given its limited access to 41 of its 46 parishes. Many villages see a priest only once a month. A team of two priests, three sisters and three brothers serve eight villages. Grants will allow the diocese to offer adult catechesis and to train deacons and Eucharistic ministers. The diocese will receive $135,000 next year.
The Cheyenne Diocese faces challenges found in small congregations scattered over vast distances. There are 31 active diocesan and 14 active religious priests to serve 53,000 Catholics spread over 98,000 square miles. The diocese was granted $75,000 to help cover the costs of education for 11 seminarians.
The El Paso Diocese ministers to 678,000 Catholics, who represent over 79 percent of the total population of the area. The diocese also has a large and mostly uncatechized Hispanic population that is constantly changing because of its proximity to the Mexican border. The ratio of priests to Catholics is 1:6,800. A grant totaling $105,000 will fund youth and evangelization programs in nine parishes and 15 missions in rural west Texas, reaching out to 26 towns and communities.
The national date for the Catholic Home Missions Appeal is the fourth Sunday in April; however, some dioceses take up the Appeal at other times.
For more information on the work of the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, visit http://www.usccb.org and search "home missions."