By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND
Crookston – Ken Ong, a Grants Specialist with Catholic Home Missions visited with diocesan staff members and toured portions of the Diocese of Crookston June 19-20.
The Diocese of Crookston is considered a mission diocese, and each year is eligible to apply for Catholic Home Mission grants. In 2017 the diocese received $155,000 in grant funds to support Catholic schools, administration, evangelization, justice, catechesis, youth ministry, marriage and family life, vocations and worship.
“Catholic Home Missions has been a consistent supporter of the diocese through the years,” said Chad Ryan, Finance Officer for the Diocese of Crookston. “The grants we get from them are approximately five percent of our operating budget and provide a valuable support to our ministries.”
The funding distributed by Catholic Home Missions is gathered through an annual collection held the last weekend of April. The collection was started by the U.S. bishops in 1998.
As a grants specialist, Ong goes through approximately 85 grant applications each year. He said the purpose for visiting is to see firsthand the challenges faced by mission dioceses.
“There is always something not mentioned in the applications that we could be helping with,” Ong said. “It is helpful to have as much information as possible to make sure that the amount we are giving each diocese is sufficient or is needed.”
During his visit, Ong toured the Chancery, met with staff members and priests whose ministries receive support from Catholic Home Missions grants, and visited St. Mary’s Mission in Red Lake, St. Philip’s, Bemidji; and Sacred Heart School, East Grand Forks.
“I like to tell dioceses that what we do, it’s not our money. It’s your money, it’s the Church’s, it’s the Catholics in the pews that are generous and have contributed to your diocese. I don’t want people to think that I’m coming here to check up on them, but more that I’m here in support … and to see what we can do because we are walking together in this,” Ong said.
According to Ong, the Catholic Home Missions appeal collection generates approximately $9.5 million. He said most of the funds collected go back out to mission dioceses.
“There’s about four to seven percent overhead that we use, but everything else goes back out to the mission dioceses for anything you can think of,” he said.
Some things the grants fund include: salaries, utilities, seminarian education, Hispanic ministry, lay ministry, parish support and education. He said the only things they don’t fund are capital campaigns and buildings.
According to their website, the 85 “Home Missions” are considered, “dioceses and parishes in the United States including its territories and former territories, which cannot provide basic pastoral services to Catholics without outside help. Basic pastoral services include Mass and sacraments, religious education and ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and lay people.”
To learn more, visit www.usccb.org and search for Catholic Home Missions.