WASHINGTON--The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions met in Duluth, Minnesota, October 13-16 to consider grant applications for 2015 funding. These grants will support "home mission" dioceses and eparchies in the U.S. and its territories, which face great challenges such as difficult geography, limited resources and impoverished populations. The grants are financed primarily through parishioner donations to an annual national collection known as the Catholic Home Missions Appeal.
"The support we give these mission dioceses often allows parishes to stay open," said Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. "A bishop in a home mission diocese struggles to meet the basic spiritual and pastoral needs of his flock. We help by providing grants that cover the cost of essential services -- from educating seminarians to providing religious education materials to needy parishes."
The Subcommittee approved requests for financial assistance from 83 (arch)dioceses and (arch)eparchies. Proceeds from the annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal and other donations allowed the Subcommittee to approve $9,027,500 in grants for 2015. This amount includes a $35,000 gift to the apostolic nuncio to help alleviate the cost of his travel to visit home mission dioceses.
One grant to the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, will help ministry to continue in this small diocese where farming is the primary occupation. There are only 36 active priests and 15 permanent deacons serving a Catholic population of about 35,000 people. Currently, only 28 of the diocese's 66 parishes have a resident pastor. A grant of $150,000 will cover expenses related to its Office of New Evangelization, which oversees faith formation, evangelization, youth ministry and marriage and family ministry.
For the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, a $150,000 grant from Catholic Home Missions means being able to offer basic pastoral services, including: youth ministry, parish aid, seminary formation and vocation promotion, religious education and diocesan communications. The diocese has a large Hispanic population and a shortage of priests. There are currently six seminarians in formation, but only 24 active diocesan priests and 18 religious and international priests. Since most of the seminarians come from humble families, the diocese provides full support for their formation, which includes room and board, books, tuition and health insurance.
The national date for the Catholic Home Missions Appeal is the fourth Sunday in April. The next collection will be taken on April 26, 2015. However, some dioceses take up the Appeal at other times during the year. More information on Catholic Home Missions and the projects it funds can be found online: http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/catholic-home-missions-appeal/index.cfm