For more than 100 years, stewardship has been the foundation for the mission of Catholic Extension to strengthen and support the Catholic Church throughout the United States in places unable to sustain Catholic communities of faith themselves. Through the endless generosity of Catholic Extension donors, mission dioceses have received more than $500 million (more than $1 billion in today’s dollars) in support. These gifts have helped make the Church alive in communities where resources are scarce but faith is vibrant and growing.
Catholic Extension’s story begins in 1905 with Father Francis Clement Kelley. During his travels across the frontier of America, he witnessed poor and isolated communities struggling to practice their faith – often without any church. Passionate in his desire to support them, Father Kelley called upon all Catholics to share their gifts to help build the Church in these areas.
Today, carrying on Father Kelley’s original mission to build faith, inspire hope and ignite change, Catholic Extension supports nearly 100 mission dioceses located across America. Catholic Extension generates financial support in many different ways. Traditional fundraising, including direct mail solicitation, annual giving, major gifts and planned giving, is an important part. As one of the largest suppliers of religious calendars, Catholic Extension also raises funds and mission awareness every year through its calendar program.
Catholic Extension’s support focuses on three areas – people, ministries and infrastructure – and is given based on need and a commitment to the growth of the Catholic faith. Catholic Extension supports such efforts as leadership development, vocations and seminary formation, and children, youth and young adults.
Ministries that serve Catholic faith communities and their surrounding areas are also funded by Catholic Extension. These ministries offer religious education, marriage preparation, liturgical materials, outreach to the marginalized and much more.
As to infrastructure, Catholic Extension builds, renovates and repairs churches and church facilities as well. Indeed, it has supported more than 12,000 such projects throughout its history. Today, these investments in infrastructure go beyond churches to include technology projects, operational support, and salary subsidies that help ensure the strength and stability of mission dioceses.
In 2012, the board of directors of the International Catholic Stewardship Council honored the work of Catholic Extension by extending to it the Christian Stewardship Award.
To learn more about the mission and ministry of Catholic Extension visit the organization’s website by clicking HERE.