WASHINGTON - Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal supported ministry in U.S. dioceses and parishes that, even in the best of times, are challenged to sustain worship and outreach activities without financial help. These “home mission” dioceses rely on annual funding from this collection to help provide basic pastoral services.
This year’s Catholic Home Missions Appeal will be taken up in most parishes on April 25, 2021. Donations may also be made through parish e-offertory platforms, diocesan websites, or by mail. Because many parishioners were unable to attend Mass for most of last year due to COVID-related restrictions there was a significant decline in giving to the 2020 Catholic Home Missions Appeal, which is trending down by more than half.
“Grants may need to be cut by 10-15 percent,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. “Funded dioceses can hardly absorb such an additional loss of funding. I pray that parishioners will support the appeal when it is taken up in their parish. Your generosity is a tangible expression of unity in the Holy Spirit with our brothers and sisters in home mission dioceses.”
In the Diocese of Kalamazoo, migrant farmworkers who pick fruit such as apples, peaches, and berries in that area of Michigan have been essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their only visitors – apart from public health officials – have been pastoral ministers funded through the Catholic Home Missions Appeal.
“Thanks to you, the Church has offered them food, prayer, and hope. In the darkness of the pandemic, your support enabled Catholic parishes to be bright lights of charity and solidarity,” Bishop McKnight said. “Through your gifts to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, these workers have seen the face of Jesus through our Church.”
Currently, 87 dioceses and eparchies in the U.S. and its territories receive support through the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Due to poverty and a small, often scattered Catholic population, they cannot sustain ministries such as evangelization, religious education, seminary formation, or ministry to ethnic communities on their own. Dioceses funded through this appeal account for about 40 percent of all U.S. dioceses, from Alaska to the Mississippi Delta to the Virgin Islands and remote Pacific Islands.
In the Diocese of Fargo, gifts support the Young Disciples Apostolate, which trains young adult missionaries to run Catholic Vacation Bible Schools and youth ministry in isolated rural parishes of North Dakota. The children and teens, in turn, often evangelize their parents. Of the 220 missionaries trained by the program over 20 years, 17 are now priests, 25 are in seminary, 20 entered religious life, and many more are parish lay ministers.
The Syriac Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, home to many Catholic Iraqi refugees who fled anti-Christian persecution and arrived in the U.S. with nothing, could not survive without this collection.
“Your support . . . is more than just generosity, it is a witness of the faith, the Christian faith of the Catholic Church,” said Bishop Yousif Habash of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, which encompasses the entire United States. “I have never known any nation more generous than the American nation. With your support we have this wonderful witness that we are one Church, as we are one nation under God. We are one body of Jesus Christ.”
The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. To learn more about the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, visit www.usccb.org/home-missions.
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