November 8, 2013
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions met in Gallup, New Mexico, on October 16-17 to consider grant applications for 2014. These grants will fund “home mission” dioceses in the U.S, those which face great challenges due to their geography and the poverty of the populations they serve. The grants are financed through the annual fundraising campaign known as the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. “Many people do not realize that the missions are present here at home in the U.S.,” said Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. “Most home mission dioceses struggle with a small staff and limited funds, while often times trying to meet the needs of parishes spread out over hundreds of miles.”
The Subcommittee received $9.25 million in requests from 84 dioceses and eparchies. Proceeds from the annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal and other donations allowed the Subcommittee to approve $8,484,000 in grants for 2014. This amount includes a $30,000 gift to the apostolic nuncio for his travel to visit home mission dioceses. These grants will be paid quarterly beginning in January.
The majority of the requests received by the Subcommittee are in the areas of faith formation, diocesan and parish assistance, and priestly and religious vocations. Other funded areas include cultural diversity, life and dignity of the human person, and strengthening marriage and family life.
The highest number of applications was for priestly and religious vocations; 40 dioceses applied for assistance with seminary education and vocations. Many home mission dioceses suffer from a shortage of priests. For the dioceses with incoming vocations, educating these young men is crucial to the ongoing life of the diocese.
“Without the help of these grants, many of the home mission dioceses simply could not afford to educate the young men who come to them ready to serve in the priesthood,” said Bishop Christensen. “The blessing of vocations for a small diocese should not be stopped by a lack of funding. Helping a home mission diocese bear the cost of educating seminarians is an investment in that diocese’s future and for our Church in the U.S.”
The next largest area of grant requests was in faith formation. Thirty-five dioceses submitted grant requests for religious education funding. Cultural diversity is also an area of great need, where three-quarters of the 40 applications received were for Hispanic ministry.
For the diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, located on the Gulf of Mexico, a grant from Catholic Home Missions means funding for Hispanic ministry, diaconate training, and ministry for the deaf. In the diocese of Yakima, located in rural Washington state, a grant supports seminarians and religious education. The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio, which encompasses most of the Midwest, uses a grant to help fund a cultural center, mission parishes, and communication outreach, including evangelization through radio.
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 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.
Keywords: evangelization, ministry training, clergy, deacons, lay formation, Catholic Home Missions Appeal, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Peter F. Christensen, diocese, grants, Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, national collections
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