The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions met in El Paso, Texas last month to consider grant applications for 2020. The Subcommittee approved $9.9 million in grants to aid 77 dioceses and eparchies in the United States and its territories that face significant challenges to their evangelization efforts due to geography, low populations, and poverty. The USCCB announced the grants on October 28, 2019.
Financed through the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, a special national collection held each year in dioceses across the country, the grants support a wide range of pastoral outreach and ministries in the communities that are designated awardees. Recipients for 2020 include the Diocese of Kalamazoo’s well-established migrant ministry outreach, which has been supported for two decades by Subcommittee grants. This program includes ministry staff as well as more than 100 volunteers from 15 parishes. Last year, the diocese’s Hispanic Migrant Team visited more than 300 migrant farmworker camps and ministered to 15,000 people, providing access to the liturgy, sacramental preparation, catechetical classes, and various social services.
The 2020 funds will help the diocese continue this effort. For the Diocese of Colorado Springs, funding from the Subcommittee means youth and young adults will continue to have access to critical faith formation programs, equipping them with knowledge of their Catholic faith through catechesis and evangelization. In the Diocese of Dodge City, the Subcommittee’s grant will support a lay ministry formation program for leadership development in more than 10 parishes. In the Diocese of Juneau, the grant will help to minister to people who live in remote regions scattered along 500 miles of islands, peninsulas, and fjords.
During the visit to the Diocese of El Paso, the Subcommittee had the opportunity to meet with the staff who carry out the ministries in west Texas that the grants would support and heard firsthand about the challenges and successes of meeting the needs of their faith community. Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, of Jefferson City and Chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, shared his sincere gratitude for the commitment and dedication diocesan and parish personnel have shown in the face of difficulties.
“The Diocese of El Paso, along with many other dioceses throughout the United States struggle to meet the basic pastoral needs of the faithful. Thanks to the generosity of Catholics throughout the United States, dioceses in need can apply for grants that will help them with evangelization and pastoral ministry efforts,” said Bishop McKnight. “These dioceses otherwise might not be able to engage as robustly in the evangelization and outreach programs that foster the community and fraternity needed to enrich the faithful who long to grow closer to Christ,” he said.
The Subcommittee oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. Most of the requests received by the Subcommittee are to support programs of evangelization, Hispanic ministry, seminary education, lay ministry formation, and other essential pastoral ministries.