The numbers don’t lie: Challenges continue in mission America

A recent survey conducted by Catholic Extension of mission dioceses in the United States revealed eight mission dioceses where half the parishes have no pastor; three where more than half the priests are retired or infirm; and nine mission dioceses have less than $50 in assets per Catholic.

These compelling statistics highlight the need for continued support from women and men of faith who recognize God at work in their brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church across America–in places they will never see and among people they will likely never meet.

Just two samples among the many statistics produced in the study:

  • In the Dioceses of Fairbanks, Alaska; Superior, Wisconsin; Crookston, Duluth and New Ulm, Minnesota; Salina, Kansas; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 50 percent of the parishes have no pastor. In the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas, the figure is 72 percent.

    Together, these dioceses serve nearly a half-million Catholics.

  • In Texas, there is one priest for every 10,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Brownsville and one for every 6,800 Catholics in the Diocese of El Paso.

Examples of how your support helps address the critical needs expressed to Catholic Extension through our Grants Program currently include:

Social or Clinical Outreach

  • 23 grant applications totaling $354,520

Salary Subsidies

  • 175 grant applications totaling $2,341,072

Future Ordained Leadership Funding

  • 33 grant applications totaling $1,823,035

Lay Leadership Formation

  • 15 grant applications totaling $180,585

“At a time when even many big-city archdioceses encounter significant financial obstacles, these figures certainly highlight a broad array of challenges the Church and her missioners face every day across mission America,” said Bob Dixon of Catholic Extension. “That is why we thank our generous supporters to Catholic Extension who – every day – allow America’s missioners to recognize the face of God in all those they serve.

“Supporters of Catholic Extension, women and men of deep faith, see the work of the Divine alive in every corner and people of the United States, in places far and wide, and do what they can to be present to these communities by sharing their own gifts,” Dixon said. “Their generosity shines even in the face of daunting statistics such as these. We are immensely grateful for their generosity and the difference they make.”

Breaking news: Arkansas church gets $100K for expansion project

St. Augustine -- Dardanelle, AKCatholic Extension has awarded $100,000 to St. Augustine Church in Dardanelle, Ark., President Fr. Jack Wall said this week. The money will allow the rapidly growing congregation to increase seating by 75 percent, to 280 from 160.

“People have been standing outside in the cold, heat and rain,” said Father Clayton Gould, St. Augustine’s pastor. “This will alleviate much of the congestion.”

The congregation is growing largely because of Latino workers who have come to work at livestock-processing plants in the area. St. Augustine is the only church with Spanish liturgy in the area and covers a 15- to 20-mile radius, but English Masses are also drawing more Hispanic worshippers, Gould said.

The construction project will also expand the sacristy, bathrooms and vestibule.

The congregation had already raised the majority of the funding, Fr. Gould said. But other costs, such as repaving the parking lot and architect fees, increased the tab.

“So we were $100,000 short—until now!” Fr. Gould said.

Fundraising activities included an event with Mexican food and rides that drew people from all over the area and netted $11,000 in one day.

“They’ve been working so hard to raise money,” Fr. Gould said. “This is just going to be a shot in the arm for us.”