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WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal is scheduled for the weekend of April 25-26. Home mission dioceses are those located in remote, rural, and impoverished areas across the United States, including the Deep South, Appalachia, and the Rocky Mountains, as well as in U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific. These dioceses and eparchies are unable to offer their people the basic pastoral ministries of word, worship, and service without outside help. While the impact of the coronavirus outbreak presents challenges in the lives of all the home mission dioceses are in special need of assistance to minister to their faithful in the midst of these unprecedented changes.
“It is a difficult time to hold a national collection amid the coronavirus pandemic when in addition to health concerns, unemployment has surged and economic uncertainty casts a shadow over communities across the country. We also know that there are dioceses across the country that rely upon the generosity of the faithful to help provide basic pastoral services in remote, rural, and impoverished areas, that are also now facing additional hardship with the impact of the coronavirus,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. “We humbly ask Catholics to pray for these mission dioceses in the United States and consider contributing to help strengthen the Church even as stay-at-home orders physically limit our ability to gather together in our parishes for Mass.”
To assist mission dioceses and eparchies with the financial impact of the COVID-19 virus, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, approved the early release of the second grant payments for 2020 to mission dioceses. This final distribution of the 2020 award was originally scheduled for release this July. “We thank God for the ability to continue our service our brothers and sisters in home missions dioceses during this time of uncertainty for many,” said Bishop McKnight. “It is my hope that the early release of the grant funds can be put to immediate use to help the recipient dioceses in their ongoing pastoral ministry.”
The Diocese of Crookston covers a vast area of rural Minnesota, including two Native American reservations. The ability to minister in this area is particularly challenging, given limited resources and the remote terrain. The support of the Catholic Home Missions Appeal has helped hundreds continue to grow in the faith for a lifelong commitment to missionary discipleship.
The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. The subcommittee funds a wide range of pastoral services, including those that focus on evangelization activities, religious education, ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and laypeople, as well as, support of poor parishes across the country. The subcommittee's grants are funded by donations to the annual collection. In 2019, the subcommittee approved over $9.9 million in grants to assist 83 dioceses and eparchies for 2020 – more than 40 percent of all U.S. dioceses are home missions.
More information about the collection, including what programs it supports and how the funds are distributed, can be found at www.usccb.org/home-missions.
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Catholic Home Missions Appeal, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Committee on National Collections, COVID-19 virus, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight.
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