WASHINGTON (April 15, 2003) -- The Catholic Home Missions Appeal, which helps the most financially-strapped dioceses in the United States to carry out the work of preaching the Gospel, will award $11.1 in grants this year, the highest total in its history. This total includes a half million in supplements to the poorest of the dioceses.
"Strengthening the Church at Home" is the theme for this year's Appeal, which will be taken up in Catholic parishes around the country on the weekend of April 26-27.
About 40% of the funds collected by the Home Missions Appeal go to the support of Hispanic ministries.
A substantial grant has also been given to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
"The Home Missions Appeal serves as a wonderful reminder that all we Catholics are linked in the community of faith" said Bishop Paul A. Zipfel of Bismarck, North Dakota, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for the Home Missions, which administers the appeal. "Through the Appeal, Catholics in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles help those in Mississippi, New Mexico and Wyoming to participate fully in the life of the Church."
The grants for 2003-2004 were finalized at a recent meeting of the Committee for the Home Missions, in Belleville, Illinois. They will be disbursed beginning July 1, 2003.
The Committee on the Home Missions awarded grants totaling $4.5 million in 1998-1999, $6.0 million in 1999-2000, $7.7 million in 2000-2001, $9 million in 2001-2002, and $10.5 million in 2002-2003. The new grants of $11.1 million will go to 87 dioceses and 27 organizations and religious orders.
The Catholic Home Missions Appeal supports the work of the Church wherever Catholics are few and the Church is fragile. At any given time approximately 40% of the 195 U.S. dioceses—including Eastern Rite eparchies—need serious financial assistance to pursue the Gospel call.
At a time when the Hispanic presence in the Church in the United States is constantly growing, about 40% of the funds collected go to Hispanic ministries. "The Home Missions Collection is vital to Hispanic ministry in the United States," said Ronaldo Cruz, Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs. "Many diocesan, regional and national projects are able to successfully respond to the Hispanic Catholic community because of the generosity and foresight of the Home Missions Collection."
Among dioceses with large percentages of Hispanics in the Catholic population are Laredo, Texas (93%); El Paso, Texas (76%); Las Cruces, New Mexico (48%); Tucson, Arizona (33%); San Bernardino, California (38%), Yakima, Washington (24%); and Pueblo, Colorado (22%).
A sampling of the dioceses and organizations which received grants for 2003-04 shows the scope and diversity of the ministries that are aided by the Catholic Home Missions Appeal:
- Birmingham received $131,000 for mission parishes, Hispanic ministry, Vincentian rural ministry, diocesan Hispanic strategic plan, and rural pastoral services.
- Fairbanks $175,000 for native lay ministry training, pastoral ministry, religious education, rural diaconate training.
- Tucson--$175,000 for ministry to parishes, ministry to deaf, prison ministry, Hispanic evangelization, youth ministry.
- Ruthenian Byzantine Eparchy of Van Nuys: $100,000 for administration, seminarians, mission parishes, clergy formation, communications, religious education.
- Pensacola-Tallahassee: $145,000 for General Evangelization, Rural Ministry, Christian Formation, Campus Ministry.
--Shreveport: $130,000 for Permanent Diaconate, Hispanic Ministry, Campus Ministry, Media Evangelization.
- Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago: $110,000, Catechetical Office, Mission Development, Youth Ministry.
- Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, $175,000, General Evangelization, Youth Ministry, Deacon Co-Sponsorship Program.
- Biloxi: $175,000, Religious Education, Department of Education, de L'Epee Deaf Center, Vietnamese Ministry, Communications, Hispanic Ministry, Mission Parishes.
- Helena: $105,000, Communications, Youth Ministry, Religious Education, Campus Ministry, Native American Catechetical Formation.
- Archdiocese of Santa Fe: $75,000, Catholic Center, Youth Ministry, Evangelization, Campus Ministry, Pastoral Training School, Prison Ministry.
In the Caribbean Islands dioceses, grants went to the dioceses of Arecibo, Caguas, and Mayaguez; in the Pacific Islands they went to the Archdiocese of Agana, the Diocese of the Caroline Islands and the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, the Prefecture Apostolic Marshall Islands, and the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago.
Organizations receiving grants included the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, Catholic Migrant Farmer Network Inc., National Association for Lay Ministry, Xavier University of Louisiana, Mexican American Cultural Center, and Glenmary Home Missioners.
About 15% of the grants from the Committee on the Home Missions go to Eastern rite churches; 7% are awarded to programs of ministry to African-American Catholics; 4% to Asian; and 6% to Native American ministries.
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 in October; now all monies from that source go to the missions overseas. The Catholic Home Missions Appeal was established by the Bishops in 1997 to guarantee continued funding for the home missions.