|Catholic Home Missions Appeal Strengthens Church At Home|
WASHINGTON—The Catholic Home Missions Appeal is scheduled to occur at Catholic parishes throughout the country the weekend of April 26- 27. The theme for the collection is Strengthening the Church at Home.
The Appeal was created in 1998 to assist and support the pastoral needs of U.S. mission dioceses and U.S. mission territories. It provides a way for Catholics across the country to support fellow Catholics in dioceses that need assistance. Currently, about 95 dioceses and U.S. territories rely heavily on the grants provided to them by the Bishops' Committee on National Collections through its Subcommittee on Home Missions. Last year alone, more than 300 different programs were funded by the Appeal.
In the Diocese of Biloxi, the proceeds of the Appeal funded evangelization efforts, Catholic schools, ministry to handicapped Catholics, communications efforts, seminary education, Hispanic and other ethnic ministries, and assistance to mission parishes. Having been devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Biloxi was one of five dioceses that received a total of $3 million in emergency funds. Ten churches received major damage from wind and flooding; six schools were destroyed and another four received major damage. As the rebuilding continues, Catholic Home Missions is determined to assist fellow Catholics in need.
In the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Catholic Home Missions provided a grant of $125,000 to support rural parishes, faith development and enrichment, the diocesan newspaper and Hispanic ministry. Due to severe weather conditions and great distances between parishes, often times only accessible by plane, providing weekly sacraments to local Catholics is difficult and dangerous for many diocesan priests. Not having access to receive the sacraments weekly is typical of a number of mission dioceses.
The Eparchy of St. Peter -- one of only two Chaldean Eparchies in the U.S.-- is responsible for Chaldean Catholics in 19 states (California, Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming). Catholic Home Missions currently funds programs of evangelization, religious education and communications. Created in 2002, the eparchy has the responsibility of meeting the pastoral needs of over 40,000 Catholics, many of whom are new immigrants from Iraq where anti-Catholic sentiments are prevalent.
"Thanks to the generosity of Catholics throughout the country, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal has grown from $4.5 million to nearly $10 million in just a few years, allowing us to continue to meet the growing needs of mission dioceses," said Dr. David Suley, Director of the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. "We are committed to being good stewards of these gifts so we work very hard to keep administrative costs low. We are proud to say that last year 93 cents of every dollar collected went back out in grants to home mission dioceses."
Typically, a diocese is considered a "mission diocese" when several of the following criteria are present: financial assets are extremely meager; the Catholic population in the diocese is low (usually less than 10%); there are great geographic distances between parishes; the diocese lacks a sufficient number of priests, deacons and lay leaders; there is a growing number of a particular ethnic group needing pastoral attention; and the diocese has a high unemployment rate.
The next annual grant cycle begins in January 2009. The total amount to be disbursed in 2009 will be determined largely by the collection results of the 2008 Catholic Home Missions Appeal.
For more information on the Catholic Home Missions Appeal or the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, please contact Dr. David Suley at 202-541-3400 or visit www.usccb.org/hm.