The green vestments that priests all over the country wear during the time between Christmas and Lent reminds Catholics that it is “ordinary time,” named after the Latin word that means “ordered.” But even in ordinary time, there are extraordinary things happening around the country which Catholic Extension is proud to support.
These are just a few of the many profound stories unfolding now—and if past experience is any guide, they are signs of new life throughout the Church. Here is a sampling of some of the latest support we have extended to members of the Church in just the past few weeks.
1. Sisters uplifting marginalized communities
Several places will be welcoming Sisters who are part of our new cohort of the US-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program. These women from congregations throughout Latin America will spend 5 years in the United States, ministering to people living in the shadows of society while also pursuing degrees. They will serve in places like Branch and St. Joseph Counties, Michigan; Aiken County, South Carolina; Natrona County, Wyoming; and several counties around Laredo, Texas (among others).
Our first cohort of Sisters just returned home to their congregations in Latin America a few months ago, having made transformational change in the communities where they ministered. We are excited to see the beautiful ways that this new cohort will serve God’s people.
2. Campus ministries bring faith to student life
Over just the past month, Catholic Extension has sent grants to 20 campus ministries in 11 dioceses, serving thousands of students. In places as diverse as Oklahoma State, the University of North Dakota, and the University of Alabama, campus ministers will provide sacramental ministry, counseling, opportunities for service, and other formative experiences. Since only a small percentage of Catholic students enroll at Catholic universities, the Newman Centers and Catholic campus ministries at public universities are important ways to help young people grow in their faith as they grow in their professional lives.
3. Support in a time of crisis
The recent earthquakes that rocked Puerto Rico touched many communities supported by Catholic Extension for decades. To use one example, the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima were displaced from their motherhouse in Guanica on the southwestern corner of the island, and had to live outside for a time. We were able to send support to help them find more appropriate temporary shelter.
Photo used with permission from EL Visitante de Puerto Rico.
4. Transforming future leaders
One of the most pressing needs in the Church today is the development of future leaders. For a number of years, Catholic Extension has supported those young people whom dioceses recommend for training to assume positions of leadership. We have partnered with Boston College, Notre Dame, and Fordham to enable students from poor dioceses to earn degrees in Theology and Pastoral Ministry. Past recipients of this support have gone onto leadership roles in parishes and diocesan offices, breathing new life into their local churches.
5. Serving those in remote areas
There is a joke among some residents of the wide-open spaces of Montana that if your dog runs away, three days later you can still see it. Catholics in these sparsely populated areas still have access to the sacraments and to pastoral support because of the heroic service of priests and nuns who give of themselves generously, frequently logging in hundreds of miles per week to visit parishes and missions. Catholic Extension supports religious education in Red Lodge, in the Southeastern part of the state, as well as in Sanders County in the Northwest.
One priest and two deacons serve 200 families over 100 miles in Sanders County. Many of the residents are elderly and on fixed incomes, so the presence of the Church in these ministries is invaluable.
It happens that over the past few months, the bishops of the United States have been undertaking their ad limina visits to the Holy See. These visits, which according to canon law bishops must make every several years, are reminders that even the most remote and underresourced parts of the world are still places where the Church is called to bring the Good News to people. Each month, we at Catholic Extension are reminded of how even in the most ordinary time, extraordinary things are happening in the Church.
You can help communities just like these. Please donate to help us build up vibrant and transformative Catholic faith communities in the poorest regions of America.