The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions has awarded Catholic Extension a $1.5 million grant to help support a large-scale effort toward disaster recovery for the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico. The funds will be used to cover the startup expenses of the six Catholic dioceses in Puerto Rico as they seek funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to rebuild properties still left damaged from the 2017 hurricanes.
“The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions appreciates the innovative groundwork that Catholic Extension’s staff has undertaken in the rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Home Missions. “We are pleased to be able to support its work to seek additional funding through FEMA and to continue our shared efforts to rebuild the Church in Puerto Rico.”
The initiative is expected to generate several hundred million dollars in federal funds for Catholic schools and churches to rebuild their structures. The Catholic Church in Puerto Rico continues to provide critical pastoral care by providing spiritual, emotional, and humanitarian outreach to the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricanes. This recovery effort will ensure that the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico has adequate and resilient facilities for its pastoral activities in the future, especially those that will serve the poor and vulnerable after future major natural disasters.
This grant allocation was funded by donations to special collections called by USCCB to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricanes Irma and Maria and is in addition to the $3.3 million provided directly to five dioceses in Puerto Rico that requested support from the USCCB special collections. Since its founding in 1905, Catholic Extension has also financially supported the Church in Puerto Rico by rebuilding and repairing churches and supporting numerous ministries in marginalized communities of the island.
The Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions oversees the Catholic Home Missions Appeal as part of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections. The Subcommittee funds a wide range of pastoral services, including those that focus on evangelization activities, religious education, ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and laypeople, and support of poor parishes across the country. Home mission dioceses are located across the United States, including the Deep South, Appalachia, the Rocky Mountains, and U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific.
More information about Catholic Home Missions, including what programs it supports and how the funds are distributed, can be found at www.usccb.org/home-missions.