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WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions announced November 19 the approval of over $8.4 million in grant funding to aid in evangelization, religious education, ministry training and other support of 84 mission dioceses across the country.
These home mission dioceses across the United States face great challenges due to the rugged terrain of their location and the poverty of the population they serve.
"Each year we are presented with the opportunity to share the generous gifts of the nation's Catholics with mission dioceses here at home. Most people are surprised to learn that over 40 percent of the dioceses in the United States receive our support," said Bishop Michael W. Warfel of Great Falls-Billings, Montana, chairman of the subcommittee. "We hear regularly from the bishops of home mission dioceses how essential our funding is to their ability to provide the sacraments and spread the Gospel."
The Subcommittee primarily supports home mission dioceses in the United States that are unable to offer their communities the basic pastoral ministries without assistance. The grants are financed through the annual fundraising campaign known as the Catholic Home Missions Appeal and support such pastoral services as: evangelization activities; religious education; training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and laity, as well as ministry with ethnic groups.
Three examples of dioceses funded from the Catholic Home Missions Appeal are the Dioceses of Fairbanks, Alaska; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and El Paso, Texas.
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."
Keywords: evangelization, ministry training, clergy, deacons, lay formation, Catholic Home Missions Appeal, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Michael W. Warfel, diocese, grants, Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, national collections
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