The Subcommittee on the Home Missions was founded as the American Board of Catholic Missions in 1924. Since then, it has given hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to poor dioceses in the United States, its territories and former territories. It has also supported a range of other missionary efforts in America. Historically, home mission grants were funded by a percentage of the Mission Sunday Collection, administered for many years by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. In the 1990s, however, the Holy Father decreed that, after a transitional period, the entire Mission Sunday collection should go to support the missions overseas.
To provide a continuing source of support for local communities where Catholics are few and the Catholic Church is poorly established, the bishops of the United States created the Catholic Home Missions Appeal in 1998. They designated the last weekend in April as the date on which parishes should take up the new collection.
The Appeal began modestly, raising about $4.5 million in its first year. It has since grown to $9.5 million. For 2006-07, the Subcommittee on the Home Missions gave $8.2 million in grants to 90 dioceses and to 21 organizations and religious institutes. It also responded to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by giving an additional $3 million in disaster relief to the Archdiocese of New Orleans and four other dioceses along the Gulf Coast.
Year after year, the Subcommittee on the Home Missions helps dioceses that cannot provide basic pastoral services to their people without outside help. This assistance is essential to scattered and isolated churches in the Appalachian Mountains, on the Mexican border, in the Deep South, in the Rocky Mountain States, and on islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Donations to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal support a wide range of pastoral activities, with special emphasis on evangelization; religious education; ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and lay people; and support of poor parishes.