WASHINGTON (November 22, 2005) – The Committee on the Home Missions (CHM) has awarded $3 million in special grant funds to the five dioceses most affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
CHM grants go to support ongoing programming and personnel in some of the poorest dioceses in the country. There are about 90 U.S. dioceses which receive CHM grants.
In September, Little Rock Bishop J. Peter Sartain, Chairman of the Committee on the Home Missions, announced that the CHM had received approval from the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to expend up to $3 million of its reserve funds for hurricane relief, in both mission and non-mission dioceses.
The Committee met by conference call October 13 and decided that these special funds should go to the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Dioceses of Biloxi, Houma-Thibodaux, Lake Charles and Beaumont. The latter four dioceses were already on CHM's rolls as mission dioceses. The Committee unanimously declared that, since the hurricanes, pastoral conditions in New Orleans qualify it as a mission diocese under CHM Guidelines for Funding, at least for the short term.
At its November 15 meeting in Washington, the CHM approved a formula for dividing the $3 million in special grants as follows: $1.2 million (40%) to the
Archdiocese of New Orleans, $900,000 (30%) to the Diocese of Biloxi, and $300,000 (10%) each to the Dioceses of Houma-Thibodaux, Lake Charles, and Beaumont.
The Committee on the Home Missions is the successor to the American Board of Catholic Missions begun in 1924. It is funded by an annual appeal conducted in the 195 U.S. dioceses.
"The Catholic Home Mission Appeal is a concrete expression of the spirit of communio that binds together all the bishops of the United States," Bishop Sartain said in a letter to the heads of the affected dioceses. "Please accept this special award with their prayers and ours for a hopeful future."
Since the funds will come from reserves, the CHM's regular grant program will not be affected.