Extension’s ‘Advent Alms’ program aims to help poor U.S. Catholic communities

By By Catholic News Service
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Rubble surrounds a damaged church Jan. 9, 2020, following an earthquake in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

CHICAGO (CNS) — To support poor faith communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Extension is launching “Advent Alms for America,” a program that aims to match poor parishes in one part of the U.S. with parishes that have more resources in another part of the country.

The initiative is seeking 1,000 faith communities to raise $1,000 each during the Advent season.

Such monies “would be transformative to the parishes” supported by Catholic Extension, which “were barely surviving economically prior to the pandemic,” according to the Chicago-based organization.

“These are areas where a $1,000 gift is the equivalent of 10 weeks of Sunday collections,” Extension said in announcing the program. The funds will allow pastoral leaders to do the core spiritual work of the church among the poor as well as share the corporal works of mercy with those who are suffering.

The Catholic Extension website has information about the Advent Alms initiative at catholicextension.org/advent-alms-across-america.

“It is our prayer that parishes will join us in this national expression of 'Catholic kinship' with the poorest parishes in America,” said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension. “I thank all who participate in advance for your kindness and for ‘extending yourself’ in solidarity with those on the margins of our society in the 'little towns of Bethlehem' across our land.”

Catholic Extension listed some examples of communities that would benefit from “Advent Alms for America:

  • Villages of the Alaskan “bush” country.
  • Native American reservations in the West.
  • African American missions in the Deep South.
  • Migrant farmworker camps in farming areas.
  • Shanty towns along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Remote communities in Appalachia.
  • Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Catholic Extension has been supporting the work and ministries of the nation's mission dioceses since its founding in 1905. It raises funds to help build up faith communities and construct churches in these dioceses, which are rural, cover a large geographic area, and have limited personnel and pastoral resources.


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