US bishops make appeal for funding youth ministry

.- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced on Tuesday the 2010 Catholic Home Mission Appeal, which will urge dioceses around the country to “Strengthen the Church at Home” with their  financial support.

The appeal will take place across the U.S. from April 24-25 and will focus on youth ministry as a special area of need within the Church.

“In youth ministry programs, young Catholics grow in faith and gain valuable leadership skills. Without this appeal, some poorer dioceses might not be able to sustain vital youth programs,” said Bishop Michael W. Warfel of Great Falls-Billings, and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions.

The USCCB reported on Tuesday that from 2003-2007, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal gave more than $2.25 million to 130 diocesan youth ministry programs.

The bishops' conference also explained that the Catholic Home Mission Appeal funds a variety of pastoral activities each year with emphasis on evangelization, religious education, ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters, and lay people, youth ministry and support for poor parishes.

Home mission dioceses often exist in rural or economically struggling areas with a lack of priests and lay people to sustain parishes. Around 90 of the 195 Latin and Eastern rite diocese in the U.S., approximately 45 percent, are unable to provide basic services for their parishioners without assistance from the Catholic Home Missions Appeal.

In 2009, a grant of $125,000 from the appeal enabled the Diocese of Lexington to keep nine parishes in Appalachia open by providing for priests, pastoral assistants and office staff. The appeal last year also supported nine seminarians in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

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