WASHINGTON (March 26, 2001) -- The Bishops' Committee on the Home Missions (CHM) will award nearly $9 million in grants to more than 100 dioceses, organizations and religious orders this year. This is twice the amount disbursed three years ago, one year after the U.S. Bishops established the first Catholic Home Missions Appeal in 1997.
"The great success of the Catholic Home Missions Appeal is a reflection of the strong links among the dioceses of the United States and its dependencies in a spirit of communio," said the Chairman of the CHM, Bishop Paul A. Zipfel of Bismarck, North Dakota. "It's a great example of the Church taking care of its own."
The grants for 2001-2002 were finalized at a recent meeting of the CHM in Bismarck. They will be disbursed beginning July 1, 2001.
The Committee on the Home Missions awarded grants totaling $4.5 million in 1998-1999, $6.0 million in 1999-2000, and $7.7 million in 2000-2001. The new grants consist of $8,094,622 to 81 dioceses and $877,188 to 22 organizations and religious orders.
The Catholic Home Missions Appeal supports the work of the Church wherever Catholics are few and the Church is fragile: in the Deep South, in the Rocky Mountain states, in the dusty Southwest, in the Rust Belt of eastern Ohio, in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and in Pacific territories like American Samoa and the Marshall Islands.
The importance of the Catholic Home Missions Appeal is highlighted by the fact that at any given time, approximately 40 percent of the 194 U.S. dioceses need serious financial assistance--in addition to the Eastern Catholic Church dioceses--to provide the basic pastoral ministries of worship and service for their people.
The impact of fewer priests hits mission dioceses hardest because they are typically large in area and the number of priests, even in the best of times, is quite small. The total number of active diocesan priests in certain mission dioceses would probably come as a surprise to most Catholics, for example, Anchorage, Alaska 12; Baker (OR) 21; Biloxi (MS) 40; Colorado Springs 25; Crookston (MN) 30; Las Cruces (NM) 18; Lexington (KY) 38; Rapid City (SD) 28; Savannah (GA) 43; San Angelo (TX) 24.
Dioceses as disparate as Youngstown, Ohio and Samoa-Pago Pago will receive awards in the coming year. Among dioceses destined for grants in 2001 are Boise, where there are only five parochial schools and one Catholic high school, and buying textbooks for religious education classes is very difficult, and Helena, where the pastor of St. James parish in Plains, Montana, travels nearly 26,000 miles a year to serve two parishes and two distant mission churches. Funding from the Catholic Home Missions Appeal will also help to reach out to the many Hispanics moving into northern Nevada. Some are working in casinos and resorts, while others work on rural ranches and in mines.
About one-third of all CHM grants go to various forms of Hispanic ministries, and approximately 10% are awarded to ministry among African-American Catholics, particularly in the South. Both minstries are top priorities of the Home Missions Appeal at the present time, as is Asian Ministry. Recipient organizations in the coming year include the Mexican American Cultural Center, the National Black Sisters Conference, National Hispanic Catholic Center, Inc., the Southeast Regional Office for Hispanic Ministry, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
The Home Missions Appeal directs 13% of its funding grants to the Eastern Catholic dioceses, which makes it the largest source of funding, from within the Latin Rite, of Eastern Catholic jurisdictions in the United States. Among 12 Eastern Catholic dioceses which will receive grants in the coming year are the Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton (Ohio), the Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Josephat in Parma, the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron in Brooklyn, and the Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago, each of which will receive grants of $90,000 and above.
The Home Missions Appeal will also award $125,000 to the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA.
The Committee on the Home Missions is the successor to the American Board of Catholic Missions, begun in 1924. Until 1999, the CHM received a percentage of the Mission Sunday collection, taken up in most dioceses each October; now all monies from this source go to the missions overseas. The Catholic Home Missions Appeal was established by the Bishops in June 1997 to guarantee continued funding for the home missions. The national date is the last Sunday in April, which is April 29 this year. The theme is "Strengthening the Church at Home."