A New Church for St. Mary Presentation

Each year, nearly 100 parishes in the United States receive Catholic Extension funding to make critical facility improvements.

St. Mary Presentation Parish in Deer Park, Washington, recently celebrated the one year anniversary of their new church.  Watch the video below to see how a $50,000 grant from Catholic Extension helped this parish build a new church to accommodate their thriving faith community in the Diocese of Spokane.

To help support Catholic communities like St. Mary Presentation, please consider making a gift today.

— John Bannon, Manager of Digital Communications, Catholic Extension

Priest soars high above adversity

Tuwan Bowden in Fr. Garrett's plane, Levelock, Alaska

In Alaska, isolated communities and harsh weather conditions are no barrier for the Catholic faith. Father Scott Garrett recalls a powerful story from his ministry in the Spring issue of EXTENSION magazine. Click here to read how Fr. Garrett soars above obstacles to serve the Archdiocese of Anchorage.

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.”

From the missions: Diocese of Savannah

By Robert Dixon, vice president for marketing and communications

I recently visited mission churches in rural Georgia and Utah as part of a team working on a short film for Catholic Extension, a teaching video that will help us explain not only what we do but for whom.

The trip took us to two parishes in the Diocese of Savannah, which encompasses the southern end of Georgia. Our first stop was at Holy Family Catholic Church in a town called Metter, which sits along Interstate 16 between Atlanta and Savannah. Our cameras would be there to capture a Mass honoring the 50th anniversary of the Catholic presence in Metter, as well as the sacraments of confirmation and first communion.

Catholic Extension, through our donors, helped build the church—twice. The first chapel, roughly four decades old, is modest and small, with a kitchen in back. It’s now the parish hall.

The newer church is a big improvement, a handsome building on three well-groomed acres. It makes for a picturesque scene.

The congregants reflected the same pride. The people wore dresses to the nines, and the atmosphere was so celebratory. People were really just glad to be there.

Presiding over the Mass was Savannah Bishop Kevin Boland, who proved unflappable even when a teenage girl in her finest clothes interrupted his homily, walking down the center aisle and nodding in deference before taking her seat.

“Glad you could join us!” Bishop Boland said, with good humor.

The next day we repeated the process, this time to the onion fields around Sand Hill, a tiny crossroads town in what city dwellers might consider the middle of nowhere.

Here, too, in a humble set of modular buildings, the worship at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission was joyous. Smiling children dressed from head to toe in white received the sacraments amid the icons and low-hanging lights, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on prominent display.

Before and after the Mass our crew interviewed the bishop, priests and parishioners, and one theme ran through every conversation: everyone wanted to be certain that you, the donors of Catholic Extension, knew how much of a real, measurable impact you were having on their lives by making it possible for them to practice their faith to the fullest.

Update: White River, Arizona

Extension magazine recently received this letter from Father Eddie Fronske of St. Francis Church in Whiteriver, Ariz., written to an anonymous donor who responded to an article about mission work on an Apache reservation. Father Fronske asked us to print it in the magazine, and we will.

But really, Father Fronske is speaking to all of us, and the inspiring words he received and gave back are worth reading on their own.

Here is the letter:

Dear anonymous benefactor and reader of Extension,

Thank you for your wonderful response to the article in Extension! You sent a donation of $300, holy cards and a most encouraging letter. Your letter was a special gift to me. Life is so challenging here on the reservation, with three parishes many miles apart and struggling with finances as never before.

You assured me of your prayers and reminded me that God is there in the worst of times and even when it doesn’t seem like it. You reminded me to stay with my 2-plus hours of prayer a day and assured me that God hears. Thank you for such a personal and spiritual touch. Thank you for your financial help, but most of all for your heart, from which came needed words of encouragement and love.

May God bless you a hundred-fold.
Father Eddie Fronske, ofm

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.”