The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau covers 25,000 square miles along the often-neglected tier of rural southern Missouri counties. Most people live in the small cities of Joplin on the Kansas border, Springfield near the Ozarks, and Cape Girardeau on the Mississippi. Timber, ranching, and agriculture dominate the local economy, although Hispanic immigrants, mostly from Mexico, have begun to arrive to take jobs in the fields or in poultry processing plants. Poverty is sadly common; ten of the poorest counties in Missouri lie within diocesan borders. Culturally, southern Missouri has more in common with neighboring Arkansas than with St. Louis and Kansas City. Catholics, who number about one person in a hundred in rural areas, are sometimes viewed with suspicion. Because the faithful are so scattered, priests average about 100 miles each weekend traveling between country parishes to say Mass. Many Catholics drive 20, 30, even 40 miles on difficult roads to get to church.
The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau has:
- 64,714 Catholics (5% of total population)
- 84 parishes and 19 missions (32 without resident pastor)
- 46 active priests
601 S. Jefferson
Springfield, MO 65806