WASHINGTON (OSV News) – Donations to the annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal “make a real impact on real people” by supporting pastoral ministry in U.S. mission territory and strengthening the church overall, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions.

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, said that as subcommittee chair and as the shepherd of a mission diocese himself, he can attest that parishes and dioceses in mission territory “are places where ministry is marked by the deep commitment of parishioners and the clergy who serve them.”

Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City and clergy from the diocese celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist during Mass July 9, 2023, at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy, Utah. An estimated 10,000 people from throughout Utah attended the Eucharistic Rally and Mass, which was the culmination of the diocese’s “Year of Diocesan Revival.” (OSV news photo/Sam Lucero)

“Many often travel many miles through mountains and deserts or arctic terrain to preside or participate at Mass and serve each other and their communities,” the bishop said in a column provided to OSV News. “These Catholics give sacrificially to support their parishes and essential ministries. They are deeply grateful and humbled by your prayers and generous support of the Catholic Home Missions Appeal.”

The appeal takes place during Mass the weekend of April 27-28. Some dioceses have a different date for the collection, but #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds for the appeal.

This collection supports dioceses and eparchies in the United States and its territories where Catholics are too few or too materially impoverished to support local ministry without outside help. Natural disasters or economic hardships caused by unemployment can increase their need.

Gifts to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal provided more than $9.8 million in grants for 2023, according to a news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The grants supported mission dioceses by subsidizing vocations work, seminary education, faith formation, evangelization, youth and young adult ministry, family and pro-life ministries and a wide variety of outreach among diverse ethnic or immigrant groups.

Grant recipients included:

— A mentor-driven approach to faith formation in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, where diocesan renewal initiatives are producing growth, evidenced by a rise in Mass attendance.

— A priestly vocations outreach in the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, that, after two years without ordinations, in 2023 yielded the largest ordination class in decades. In the program “Called North,” priests mentor and accompany young men as they discern whether they are called to the priesthood.

— A prison ministry program in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, that one diocesan leader wrote is helping to “heal these men from their past failures and give them hope for the future.”

— An annual evangelization congress in the Diocese of Stockton, California, organized by Hispanic/Latino young adults who are leading their peers to Christ. Parish youth write and perform skits to show how following the Gospel transforms real life situations.

— Participation of Catholics from the Diocese of Salt Lake City at World Youth Day and local Eucharistic revival activities.

“Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who transforms hearts, leads people to Christ, and inspires them to greater virtue,” Bishop McKnight wrote. “Yet the Spirit uses your financial gifts to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal to help bring this about. When you give to the collection in your diocese, no matter how large or small the amount, you are an instrument in the hands of God, bringing faith, hope and love to your neighbors.”