WASHINGTON--The 2014 Catholic Home Missions Appeal will be taken up in many dioceses the weekend of April 26-27. The appeal supports isolated, challenged parishes and missions in dioceses and eparchies across the United States and in several U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific islands, including Samoa Pago-Pago, St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Funds collected in the annual appeal are given out as grants from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. Forty-four percent of all dioceses and eparchies in the United States currently receive support from the appeal. This year, Catholic Home Missions is giving out $8.45 million to dioceses in need. These grants will help to cover the costs of basic and essential pastoral programs, such as evangelization, catechesis, seminary formation, and lay leadership training.
"The home missions require our attention every bit as much as the missions abroad," said Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, chairman of the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. "Many Catholics don't realize that their neighbors in the next dioceses do not have access to the same catechetical programs and Catholic schools that are available in a wealthier, more populous diocese."
Grants from the Catholic Home Missions Appeal help support 84 struggling dioceses and strengthen the Church here in the United States. "Every donation to this collection will help your neighbor to grow in his or her faith," said Bishop Christensen.
The needs of mission dioceses are as diverse as the dioceses themselves. In the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the greatest need is for migrant ministry. Over the past 20 years, the Hispanic population has almost tripled in size. During the harvest season, some parishes double in attendance. However, many workers are still unable to attend Mass because they live and work in remote areas. There is a huge need for Spanish-speaking deacons and priests to bring the sacraments to the people. Funds from the appeal support the diocese's migrant ministry program, which is run by several part-time priests and over 160 volunteers from 14 parishes. This group reaches out to the migrant workers and their families to serve their spiritual and material needs.
Mississippi has the country's highest number of families living in poverty and the lowest per capita income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For the Diocese of Jackson, these challenges are combined with a vast region and a small number of Catholics. One of the biggest problems is lack of priests. A grant from Catholic Home Missions helps cover the cost of educating the diocese's 10 seminarians, whose studies each cost about $37,000 per year. As future priests of the diocese, these men will answer the need of the people and bring the sacraments and catechesis to the parishes.
These are just two examples of how a gift to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal strengthens the Church. More information, including videos, newsletters, and collection materials, can be found online.