.- The Catholic Home Missions Appeal will award a record $11.9 million in grants this year to the poorest dioceses in the United States. This is the largest grant in its seven-year history, said the U.S. bishops in a statement Wednesday.
The grants will be disbursed to 90 dioceses and 21 organizations and religious orders, beginning July 1.
About 90 dioceses in rural U.S., rely on the appeal for parish support, religious education, youth ministry, and work with growing populations of Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asians and Native Americans.
The committee's grant is sometimes five percent or more of a diocese's total budget.
About 40 percent of the funds collected by the Home Missions Appeal go to the support of Hispanic ministries. About 14 percent are given to support the apostolate of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Committee on the Home Missions is the only Latin Rite entity that consistently supports the Eastern Catholic eparchies.
It also supports Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps chaplains through the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.
Administrative costs are low for the project are low, and nearly 93 cents of every dollar contributed goes to the missions.
However, despite this year’s record, donations are not keeping pace with the needs of the poorest dioceses, said Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Little Rock, chairman of the Committee on the Home Missions.
Bishop Sartain said that the Home Missions Appeal has continued to be successful because of the faithfulness and sustained generosity of the Catholic people. "At the same time, the national economic slowdown and troubles in the Church have eroded the financial position of mission dioceses, which had scant reserves to begin with," he said.
The bishops hope this year’s appeal will be even more successful. "Strengthening the Church at Home" is the theme and a collection will be taken up in Catholic parishes around the country April 24-25.