WASHINGTON--The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions awarded nearly $3.4 million in grants to six dioceses and two archdioceses that have been severely impacted by natural disasters in the U.S. The grants were awarded at the Subcommittee's meeting in Baltimore on November 12.
"These grants are a testimony to the compassion and solidarity of U.S. Catholics," said Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. "When each of the natural disasters struck, people were quick to give. Even times of economic hardship did not prevent this tremendous generosity."
Funds for the disaster relief grants come from two separate appeals. After Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in late 2012, dioceses were asked to help by taking up a special collection. Remittances from this appeal were split between Catholic Charities USA, which supplied immediate humanitarian assistance, and the USCCB, which would address the longer-term reconstruction needs of dioceses. The Committee on National Collections tasked the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions with allocating the USCCB's portion of the funds.
The Subcommittee awarded grants to the Archdiocese of Newark and the dioceses of Brooklyn, Camden, Rockville Centre, and Trenton. Funds will address the damage to parishes, Catholic schools and other diocesan properties not covered by insurance.
"Donors should know that each contribution to the disaster relief fund builds up the Church of God in a very concrete way," said Bishop Christensen. "I thank you on behalf of the dioceses afflicted. In addition to churches, these grants will fund the repair of Catholic schools and other parish buildings essential to the faith life of the communities."
In May 2013, the U.S. bishops were encouraged to hold a special collection to assist the victims of tornados and storms. Again, funds were divided between Catholic Charities USA and USCCB. From the USCCB's share of that appeal, just under $890,000 was granted to the Archdiocese of Denver and the dioceses of Fairbanks and New Ulm.
The Archdiocese of Denver was impacted significantly by a week-long series of storms that caused devastation by floods and mudslides. The village of Galena in the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska, suffered flooding so severe it was deemed a "500 Year Event" by federal officials. The flooding caused damage to almost every structure in the village. Two parishes in the rural St. Isidore Area Faith Community in the Diocese of New Ulm suffered damage from summer storms. Impacted properties include a church roof, steeple, and parish cemetery.