Extension Magazine - Summer 2022

Our cover image is of a Ukrainian-American bishop, Bohdan Danylo, blessing a child at a Mass for refugees he celebrated at the Ukraine-Poland border. This edition of Extension magazine discusses our long relationship with the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America, which provides us an immediate and effective pathway to help the Catholic Church in Ukraine as it cares for vulnerable people in the war-torn nation.

Our cover image is of a Ukrainian-American bishop, Bohdan Danylo, blessing a child at a Mass for refugees he celebrated at the Ukraine-Poland border. This edition of Extension
magazine discusses our long relationship with the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America,
which provides us an immediate and effective pathway to help the Catholic Church in Ukraine as it cares for vulnerable people in the war-torn nation.


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catholicextension.org<br />


SUMMER <strong>2022</strong><br />





8<br />

Mission in the mountains:<br />


<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 3<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has published <strong>Extension</strong><br />

magazine since 1906 to share with our donors<br />

and friends the stories illustrating our mission:<br />

to work in solidarity with people in America’s<br />

poorest regions to build up vibrant and<br />

transformative Catholic faith communities.<br />

S T O R I E S O F F A I T H F R O M C A T H O L I C E X T E N S I O N<br />

Contact Us<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

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catholicextension.org<br />

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Archbishop of Chicago<br />


Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas<br />

Bishop Emeritus of Tucson<br />


Reverend John J. Wall<br />


Elizabeth Hartigan Connelly<br />


Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes<br />

Bishop Emeritus of San Bernardino<br />

Most Reverend Steven Biegler<br />

Bishop of Cheyenne<br />

John W. Croghan<br />

Most Reverend Daniel E. Flores, STD<br />

Bishop of Brownsville<br />

Most Reverend Curtis J. Guillory, SVD<br />

Bishop Emeritus of Beaumont<br />

The Honorable James C. Kenny<br />

Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch<br />

Bishop Emeritus of St. Petersburg<br />

Peter J. McCanna<br />

Andrew J. McKenna<br />

Michael G. O’Grady<br />

Christopher Perry<br />

Andrew Reyes<br />

Karen Sauder<br />

Pamela Scholl<br />

Most Reverend Anthony B. Taylor<br />

Bishop of Little Rock<br />

Most Reverend George L. Thomas, Ph.D.<br />

Bishop of Las Vegas<br />

Most Reverend William A. Wack, CSC<br />

Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee<br />

Edward Wehmer<br />

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Children<br />

displaced by<br />

war 8<br />

Our cover image is of a Ukrainian-<br />

American bishop, Bohdan Danylo,<br />

blessing a child at a Mass for<br />

refugees he celebrated at the<br />

Ukraine-Poland border.<br />

This edition of <strong>Extension</strong><br />

magazine discusses our long<br />

relationship with the Ukrainian<br />

Catholic Church in America,<br />

which provides us an immediate<br />

and effective pathway to help the<br />

Catholic Church in Ukraine as it<br />

cares for vulnerable people in the<br />

war-torn nation. This includes the<br />

refugee children pictured above<br />

being sheltered by Catholic sisters<br />

in Ukraine.<br />

BUILD<br />

United with Ukraine 8<br />

COVER STORY | <strong>Extension</strong> support to the Ukrainian Catholic<br />


The Catholic Church’s powerful<br />

presence in Appalachia 18<br />

FEATURE STORY | Legendary pastor’s vision continues today<br />

IGNITE<br />

Church provides humanitarian aid to refugees<br />

Please help fuel our priests 14<br />

MISSION NEEDS | Pastors who travel hundreds of miles for<br />

ministry need extra assistance as gas prices climb<br />

A willingness to help anyone 26<br />

FEATURE STORY | Small Catholic parishes make an enormous<br />

difference in Appalachia<br />

New church in El Paso welcomes<br />

more families 29<br />

CONNECT | Rapidly growing parish thanks <strong>Extension</strong> donors<br />

for help building a new church<br />

Endowment propels Health Wagon in<br />

Appalachia to the next level 30<br />

DONOR PROFILE | Gift continues to advance lifesaving health<br />

care services in the mountains of Virginia<br />

Letter from Father Wall 4<br />

News briefs 7

4<br />

Letter from Father Wall<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 5<br />

T<br />

Love is<br />

the highest law<br />

and our<br />

deepest truth<br />

he words of the late Father<br />

Adolfo Nicolás, former superior<br />

general of the Society of<br />

Jesus, struck me when more<br />

than a decade ago he said<br />

that we live in a time characterized<br />

by the “globalization<br />

of superficiality.” What he<br />

meant, I believe, is that we<br />

humans are enticed now<br />

more than ever to spend our<br />

lives solely on the surface<br />

level, feeding our minds and<br />

hearts with a steady diet<br />

of “empty calories” that<br />

are readily available to us<br />

through modern technology<br />

and media.<br />

We risk missing the deeper<br />

purpose and meaning of our<br />

lives when we keep spinning<br />

in the shallow places of<br />

human existence where fear,<br />

cynicism and indifference<br />

thrive, without ever venturing<br />

“out into deep water” (Luke<br />

5:4).<br />

But these past several<br />

months have been somewhat<br />

of an awakening for the<br />

human family following the<br />

invasion of Ukraine, in which<br />

we have seen the reemergence<br />

of an appreciation for<br />

values and ideals grounded in<br />

Scripture, such as self-sacrifice,<br />

welcoming the stranger<br />

and befriending the orphan<br />

and widow.<br />

The most prominent<br />

Ukrainian Catholic prelate<br />

in the United States, Archbishop<br />

Borys Gudziak, whose<br />

ministry is supported by<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, believes<br />

we are learning a great deal<br />

as a human family from our<br />

Ukrainian brothers and sisters.<br />

In a recent interview he said,<br />

“Ukrainians are giving purpose<br />

to civilization. … They’re<br />

reminding us of the ultimate<br />

values. … Freedom is not free.<br />

And sometimes even the<br />

ultimate sacrifice is warranted.<br />

But it’s warranted and people<br />

take it on, because they<br />

believe in eternal life.”<br />

In other words, these values<br />

are not just relegated to a<br />

bygone era. They are alive and<br />

well today in many parts of<br />

the world like Ukraine as well<br />

as in our own country. This<br />

includes Appalachia, a place<br />

we call special attention to in<br />

this magazine.<br />

In our work at Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, we are the collaborators<br />

of many heroic<br />

people who consistently make<br />

conscious choices to love and<br />

sacrifice on behalf of others,<br />

without seeking anything in<br />

return.<br />

They have come to understand<br />

that a life well lived is<br />

not spent on the surface but<br />

rather in constant pursuit of<br />

our highest calling to love<br />

more deeply and serve more<br />

readily.<br />

This magazine’s pages are<br />

filled with stories of people<br />

and parishes supported by<br />

you, our donors, who have<br />

joined their lives, hearts and<br />

minds to causes that are bigger<br />

than themselves.<br />

Like the laywoman in<br />

rural Kentucky who spends<br />

70 hours a week serving<br />

the homeless through her<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>-supported parish,<br />

driven by her simple desire to<br />

help restore people’s human<br />

dignity one person at a time.<br />

Or the group of Ukrainian<br />

nuns who through our special<br />

support converted their<br />

convents into refugee shelters<br />

for displaced families and<br />

children in war-torn Ukraine.<br />

Likewise, the approximately<br />

100 young men from<br />

the 87 <strong>Extension</strong> dioceses<br />

who are being ordained to<br />

the priesthood this year<br />

thanks to your support of<br />

their education.<br />

These Catholic leaders<br />

with whom we partner show<br />

us that love is in fact the<br />

highest law and our deepest<br />

truth. Mindful of the mystery<br />

of God at work in their lives,<br />

they willingly lay down their<br />

lives in service of others.<br />

One of my personal heroes,<br />

Sister Marie-Paule Willem,<br />

FMM, Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

2018 Lumen Christi Award<br />

honoree, said it best: “There<br />

is so much misery in our<br />

society because of the capacity<br />

we humans have to reject<br />

love.” She knows this so well,<br />

having lived through the Nazi<br />

invasion in her home country<br />

of Belgium and after seeing<br />

death camps in South America<br />

as a young religious sister.<br />

But she is also convinced that<br />

the troubles of our times can<br />

be overcome by embracing<br />

our call to love. We can break<br />

through the powerful vortex<br />

of superficiality, the storms of<br />

fear, the clouds of cynicism<br />

“[There has been] an awakening<br />

for the human family following<br />

the invasion of Ukraine ... we<br />

have seen the reemergence of<br />

an appreciation for values and<br />

ideals grounded in Scripture,<br />

such as self-sacrifice, welcoming<br />

the stranger and befriending the<br />

orphan and widow.”<br />

and the outbreaks of violence<br />

that chronically ail our world<br />

by simply embracing this<br />

highest law and deepest truth.<br />

As Christians, we are given<br />

the commandment of love<br />

from the God of Love, who<br />

came to this world to shed<br />

his blood, tears and very life<br />

on our behalf, only to restore<br />

it into something new and<br />

beautiful. We are meant to do<br />

the same with our lives.<br />

I thank you for the great<br />

gift of love that you share<br />

with people who are suffering,<br />

the people in distress and<br />

those crying out for our help.<br />

Through your support of<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, you are a<br />

direct companion to a great<br />

generation of people living<br />

out the call to love and serve<br />

the Lord and all of humanity.<br />

God bless you and all<br />

whom you love,<br />

Rev. John J. Wall<br />


<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 7<br />

BUILD<br />


Good news from<br />

around the country<br />


CLASS<br />



TEXAS<br />







The Diocese of Bismarck,<br />

North Dakota, is<br />

ordaining five men to<br />

the priesthood this<br />

summer. For a diocese of<br />

60,000 Catholics, this is<br />

an extraordinary number.<br />

This continues a long<br />

trend of smaller dioceses<br />

successfully cultivating<br />

many new vocations. The<br />

Bismarck ordinandi are<br />

among more than 400<br />

seminarians who receive<br />

support from our donors<br />

each year.<br />

The Mexican American<br />

Catholic College (MACC)<br />

is celebrating its 50th<br />

anniversary. MACC<br />

educates Church leaders<br />

for service in a culturally<br />

diverse Church and<br />

society. Over the years,<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has<br />

partnered with MACC<br />

to provide instruction to<br />

religious sisters, priests,<br />

lay leaders and young<br />

people aspiring to serve<br />

the Church in dioceses<br />

across the United States.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> organized<br />

a national media<br />

tour in April to highlight<br />

Ukrainian-Catholic Bishop<br />

Bohdan Danylo’s trip<br />

to the Ukraine border following<br />

the Russian invasion.<br />

He was the first U.S.<br />

bishop to travel to the region.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

supports the Ukrainian<br />

Catholic Eparchy of St.<br />

Josaphat in Parma, Ohio,<br />

which he leads. Bishop<br />

Danylo’s message seeking<br />

prayers and support for<br />

Ukraine reached 45 million<br />

people. See story, page 8.<br />

Eight young adults will<br />

complete their master’s degrees<br />

in theology through<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Young<br />

Adult Leadership Initiative.<br />

These leaders live<br />

in under-resourced dioceses<br />

across the country,<br />

from Georgia to Alaska.<br />

They will use their degrees<br />

to serve the Church<br />

and strengthen faith and<br />

ministry among young<br />

people. The schools from<br />

which they will graduate include<br />

Boston College, the<br />

University of Notre Dame<br />

and Fordham University.<br />

Father Jack<br />

Wall, president<br />

of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, speaks<br />

with sisters in<br />

the U.S.-Latin<br />

American Sisters<br />

Exchange Program<br />

at the chapel<br />

at the Mexican<br />

American Catholic<br />

College, which<br />

is celebrating its<br />

50th anniversary.<br />

See next page.<br />


The Sisters of the Holy Family are commemorating<br />

the 150th anniversary of their founding with a<br />

year-long celebration. The mission of this California-based<br />

congregation is to seek out and advocate<br />

for the poor and needy, especially families. The sisters<br />

stand against conditions that demean or undermine<br />

the dignity of persons or the sacredness of the family. As<br />

part of their jubilee celebrations, they gave a generous gift<br />

to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> to support the ministries of other religious<br />

sisters in our network serving vulnerable families.<br />


8<br />

BUILD <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 9<br />

Cover Story | Ukraine<br />

Archbishop Borys Gudziak<br />

of the Ukrainian Catholic<br />

Archeparchy of Philadelphia<br />

addresses a rally for peace in<br />

Washington, D.C.<br />

Father Jason Charron, a Ukrainian-American Catholic<br />

priest from the <strong>Extension</strong>-supported Ukrainian Catholic<br />

Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, traveled to<br />

Ukraine to rescue 22 orphans from Kyiv. He took them to<br />

safety at the western border days after the war broke out.<br />


Bishop Bohdan Danylo, who<br />

leads the <strong>Extension</strong>-supported<br />

Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of<br />

St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio,<br />

blesses a refugee in Gdańsk,<br />

Poland, after celebrating the<br />

liturgy with Ukrainian refugees.<br />

In March Bishop Danylo<br />

became the first U.S. bishop to<br />

travel to the border after the<br />

war broke out, a trip sponsored<br />

by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> support to the Ukrainian Catholic Church provides<br />

humanitarian aid to refugees<br />

On February 24, <strong>2022</strong>,<br />

the nation of Ukraine<br />

was invaded by Russia.<br />

The ensuing weeks of<br />

devastating attacks<br />

have killed thousands of innocent<br />

civilians and forced millions of<br />

Ukrainians to flee their homeland.<br />

Even the most optimistic outlooks<br />

for Ukraine’s future acknowledge<br />

that pain and suffering will linger<br />

for years to come for millions of<br />

people.<br />

Around the world people are<br />

looking for ways they can help<br />

Ukrainians. One group deeply connected<br />

to the daily realities of the<br />

people of Ukraine is the Ukrainian<br />

Catholic population here in the U.S.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has supported<br />

the Ukrainian Catholic Church in<br />

the United States since 1979. The<br />

Church includes four “eparchies”<br />

(that is, dioceses) based in Philadelphia;<br />

Chicago; Stamford, Connecticut;<br />

and Parma, Ohio, operating<br />

approximately 200 Ukrainian Catholic<br />

parishes—many of which have<br />

been built with <strong>Extension</strong> funding.<br />

The Ukrainian Catholic Church<br />

in America and the Catholic<br />

Church in Ukraine are incredibly<br />

interconnected, not just spiritually<br />

but also administratively, as<br />

Ukrainian-American bishops share<br />

leadership duties for the Church<br />

in Ukraine as part of the “synodal”<br />

leadership structure. What’s more,<br />

Breathing with both lungs<br />

The Roman Catholic Church and<br />

the Eastern-rite churches are in full<br />

communion. St. Pope John Paul II<br />

famously said the “Church must<br />

breathe with Her two lungs!” This<br />

referred to the complementary<br />

relationship of the Western and<br />

Eastern Churches. Perhaps now<br />

more than ever we are seeing that<br />

vision of unity in mission through<br />

the Church’s response to Ukraine.<br />

A day after the invasion, Pope<br />

Francis thanked the Ukrainian<br />

Catholic Church, the largest of the<br />

23 Eastern-rite Catholic Churches<br />

in full communion with the<br />

Holy See, for its closeness to the<br />

Ukrainian people. He praised its<br />

You can help the Ukrainian Catholic Church by visiting catholicextension.org/ukraine<br />

Ukrainian Catholic dioceses in the<br />

United States regularly sponsor<br />

many projects in Ukraine. And our<br />

Ukrainian-American priests are<br />

commonly trained as seminarians<br />

in Ukraine, as are our religious<br />

sisters.<br />

Bishop Bohdan Danylo, a<br />

Pope Francis appointed Ukrainian-American<br />

Archbishop Borys Gudziak to the Ukrainian<br />

Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia in 2019.<br />

Born in Syracuse, New York, to Ukrainian<br />

immigrant parents, he has served the global<br />

Church in many capacities, including as the<br />

president of the Ukrainian Catholic University<br />

in Lviv, Ukraine. Most recently, Pope Francis<br />

named him a member of the Vatican Dicastery for<br />

Communications.<br />

commitment to remaining among the<br />

people and being of service to those<br />

most in need.<br />

Ukrainian-American bishop who<br />

shepherds the <strong>Extension</strong>-supported<br />

Ukrainian Eparchy of St.<br />

Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, became<br />

the first U.S. bishop to travel to the<br />

Ukraine-Poland border since the<br />

war broke out. Just two weeks prior<br />

to the invasion, Bishop Danylo had<br />

been in Ukraine for his quarterly<br />

visit. He commented how life was<br />

eerily normal in spite of the looming<br />

invasion. The border he crossed<br />

from Ukraine to Poland during<br />

that visit only took four minutes to<br />

cross. It now takes up to four days.<br />

He returned to that same border<br />

in late March with Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s sponsorship to deliver<br />

aid and to be present among the<br />

40,000 daily refugees passing<br />

through that same area. He had<br />

the opportunity to observe firsthand<br />

the impact of the funds provided<br />

by our donors and to minister<br />

directly to refugees. In an<br />

email to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, he<br />

remarked, “It has been an educational,<br />

heartbreaking and sober<br />

journey for me.” Upon his return to<br />

the United States, Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

organized a media tour for<br />

Bishop Danylo to share his experience<br />

and plead for more help. The<br />

tour helped him reach an audience<br />

of 45 million people.<br />

Our Ukrainian-American Catholic<br />

leaders know the situation in<br />

Ukraine intimately, because their<br />

own family members and brothers<br />

and sisters in faith are the<br />

ones being affected. Most importantly,<br />

they know where help is<br />

most needed at this time and have<br />

proven effective at getting funds<br />

into Ukraine to support the humanitarian<br />

effort. Additionally, priests<br />

from the United States have journeyed<br />

to Ukraine personally,<br />

including a Ukrainian Catholic pastor,<br />

Father Jason Charron, who traveled<br />

to Ukraine to personally evacuate<br />

22 orphans shortly after Russia’s<br />

invasion.<br />

The Catholic Church in Ukraine<br />

represents less than 10 percent<br />

of the total population, but it has<br />

immense credibility among the<br />

people, making it a natural network<br />

for humanitarian outreach.<br />

Its credibility is grounded in the<br />

fact that the Catholic Church in<br />

Ukraine has always identified<br />

with the persecuted because the<br />

Church has been subject to persecution.<br />

Archbishop Borys Gudziak<br />

of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy<br />

of Philadelphia—an <strong>Extension</strong>-supported<br />

eparchy—said, “The<br />

sad story is, over the last 250 years,<br />

every time Ukraine has been occupied<br />

by a Russian regime, whether<br />

its Tsarist, Communist, or ‘Putinist,’<br />

the Ukrainian Catholic Church is<br />

strangled. But it is never killed,<br />

because it is the Body of Christ, and<br />

it rises again.”<br />

The Catholic Church in Ukraine<br />

has a well-established record of<br />

speaking truth to power, regardless<br />

of the consequences. There are living<br />

memories of celebrating Mass<br />

in secret under Soviet rule. Therefore,<br />

it is the persecuted Catholic<br />

Church that, at the time of this<br />

writing, remains in place in all<br />

areas of Ukraine. And it is doing<br />

everything to alleviate the suffering<br />

of Her people, whether they are<br />

Catholic or not.<br />

Parishes, seminaries, convents<br />

and the Ukrainian Catholic University<br />

have all been converted into<br />

refugee shelters, where vulnerable<br />

families, children, the elderly<br />

and the sick receive food, medicine<br />

and transportation to evacuate the<br />

country.<br />

Our Ukrainian-American Catholic<br />

eparchies continue to be<br />

besieged with requests for help on<br />

a daily basis. Fortunately, with the<br />

help of our generous donors, they<br />

are able to immediately respond to<br />

many of these requests.

10<br />

BUILD<br />

Cover Story<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 11<br />



The Sisters of St. Basil the Great are<br />

out on the front lines providing<br />

food, diapers, hygiene products and<br />

other essential materials to families and<br />

vulnerable children in Ukraine. They need<br />

our continued support to the Catholic<br />

Church in Ukraine to carry on this vital<br />

ministry.<br />

“At the moment, all these things:<br />

products, diapers, hygiene products,<br />

etc., the sisters buy in Ukraine, but our<br />

financial resources are depleted,” Sister<br />

Danyila said. “We are thankful for any help<br />

in this hard time for Ukrainian people.”<br />


The photos in this gallery come directly from Catholic leaders in<br />

the war zone. They underscore:<br />

• The closeness of the Catholic Church’s leaders to the realities<br />

of the war, and;<br />

• The immediate impact of our support to the Ukrainian Catholic<br />

Church.<br />


Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s emergency funding to the Ukrainian<br />

Catholic Church has supported the Sisters of St. Basil<br />

the Great, who are working to shelter, feed and evacuate<br />

vulnerable families and children.<br />

Sister M. Danyila Vynnyk, provincial superior of the order,<br />

shared a letter and photographs detailing how the sisters<br />

provide aid.<br />

“Most families, especially mothers with children and<br />

seniors, live in our convents a few days and move abroad,”<br />

she wrote. “Every day 10 to 15 families live in the convents,<br />

and the sisters serve them gladly and sacrificially.”<br />



The Sisters of St. Basil the<br />

Great delivered supplies<br />

to a school in Ukraine where<br />

children with disabilities were<br />

being housed after evacuating<br />

from central and eastern<br />


12<br />

BUILD<br />

Cover Story<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 13<br />


Bishop Bohdan Danylo meets<br />

with children at the Markian<br />

Shashkevich School in Przemyśl,<br />

Poland. At that time, the school was<br />

hosting 170 refugee children.<br />

“Children are resilient; that’s one<br />

blessing of being a child. But, then,<br />

could you imagine knowing that<br />

your father is on the other side and<br />

your mom is just constantly praying<br />

that he will be alive?” Bishop Danylo<br />

explained to the Associated Press.<br />

He remarked to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

that his trip to the Ukraine-Poland<br />

border was an “educational,<br />

heartbreaking and sober journey<br />

for me.”<br />



THE BODY<br />

Sister of St. Basil<br />

the Great Yosyfa<br />

Lesnichenko feeds<br />

an evacuated child in<br />

Ukraine. The situation in<br />

Ukraine is heartbreaking<br />

on so many levels. Thanks to<br />

funds provided by <strong>Extension</strong><br />

donors, hospitalized<br />

children, orphans and those<br />

with special needs are cared<br />

for by these loving sisters.<br />


Bishop Bohdan Danylo meets with Ukrainian<br />

elders from Donetsk, Kharkiv and Sumy,<br />

who have fled to Poland due to the invasion.<br />

“I was amazed by the kindness of those<br />

people,” Bishop Danylo told the Associated<br />

Press in an April interview. “The trip, which<br />

usually takes seven hours, took three to four<br />

days for them fleeing the war zone. They stood<br />

for two days in February and March. They still<br />

didn’t lose their humanity.”<br />


Father Ihor Boyko, rector of Holy<br />

Spirit Seminary near Lviv in western<br />

Ukraine, received <strong>Extension</strong> support. The<br />

seminary is sheltering refugee families as<br />

they journey out of the country to safety.<br />

“Every day, the kitchen staff prepares<br />

a full breakfast, lunch and dinner for<br />

immigrants. If necessary, we provide baby<br />

food,” he said.<br />

The seminary is located near a strategic<br />

water source and is being protected by<br />

members of the Ukrainian defense. The<br />

kitchen staff feeds them as well.<br />

“I express my sincere gratitude to all the<br />

donors who support us. May God reward<br />

you a hundredfold for supporting Ukraine<br />

in this difficult time,” said Father Boyko.<br />


Arefugee mother has brought her daughter to shelter<br />

at Holy Spirit Seminary, supported by Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, in western Ukraine. This family is one of<br />

thousands that have journeyed for days to reach safety.<br />

You can help the Ukrainian Catholic Church by visiting catholicextension.org/ukraine

14 BUILD Mission Needs<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 15<br />



Amid the war in Ukraine, soaring fuel prices are<br />

impacting the Catholic Church in our own country. Many<br />

priests supported by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> serve multiple<br />

parishes across vast geographic distances. Traveling to<br />

far-flung communities is more costly than ever.<br />

Your donation will help pay the rising transportation<br />

costs for the priests we support as they journey far and<br />

wide to serve those on the peripheries. To contribute to<br />

one of these projects, please contact us at magazine@<br />

catholicextension.org or call 800-842-7804.<br />



St. Francis Chapel<br />

in Tenakee Springs,<br />

Chalan Kanoa<br />

Alaska, is located<br />

128 nautical<br />

miles southwest<br />

of Juneau and is<br />

Guam<br />

only accessible by<br />

airplane or ferry.<br />

Your donation will<br />

support the travel for a circuit priest<br />

from the Archdiocese of Anchorage-<br />

Juneau to reach this remote Alaskan<br />

Caroline Islands village, a hunting and fishing<br />

community.<br />

Marshall Islands<br />


In the Diocese of<br />

Gallup, New Mexico,<br />

Father Anthony<br />

Dike travels over<br />

400 miles every<br />

weekend to serve<br />

three faith communities.<br />

Along with<br />

celebrating Mass<br />

at each of the churches, his ministry<br />

also includes bringing Communion to<br />

homebound parishioners. Your donation<br />

will continue to fuel his travel and<br />

ministry to those on the peripheries.<br />

St. Ann Church in Vida, Montana, is one of<br />

four churches Father Martin Ezeihuaku serves<br />

in the 52,000-squaremile<br />

Diocese of Great<br />

Falls-Billings. Round-trip<br />

travel from his home<br />

parish on the Fort Peck<br />

Reservation in Wolf Point<br />

to three additional faith<br />

communities adds up to<br />

nearly 300 miles. Your<br />

donation will support his ministry throughout<br />

the Montana mountains.<br />


Our Lady of<br />

Miracles Church<br />

sits in rural<br />

western Texas,<br />

where summer<br />

temperatures<br />

climb well over<br />

100 degress. The<br />

church was built<br />

in 1916 with assistance from Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> after the completion of the<br />

transcontinental railway. Your donation<br />

will help Father Francisco Hernández<br />

fuel his tank to travel 70 miles round<br />

trip from his home parish to serve this<br />

remote outpost of the Church.<br />


Father Mario Solórzano drives 65 miles<br />

round trip twice a week to deliver the<br />

Eucharist to a<br />

humble church, St.<br />

Francis of Assisi<br />

in Booneville,<br />

Mississippi, in<br />

the Diocese of<br />

Jackson, which is<br />

the only Catholic<br />

presence in the<br />

county. Your support will continue to<br />

pay for the fuel that brings him there.<br />

Samoa-Pago Pago<br />


Your donation will be applied to a similar need<br />

should your specified project be fully funded<br />

before we receive your support. Thank you!<br />

Hawaii<br />


Puerto Rico<br />

St. Thomas-<br />

Virgin Islands

catholicextension.org<br />

THE GIFT<br />


YOU BACK<br />


SUMMER <strong>2022</strong><br />

A Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

charitable gift annuity<br />

offers you immediate<br />

financial benefits and will<br />

help communities that are<br />

poor in resources but rich<br />

in faith. Future generations<br />

will thank you!<br />

NEW<br />

HIGHER<br />

RATES!<br />

• Receive fixed, stable<br />

payments for life<br />

• Get immediate and future<br />

tax benefits<br />

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For a personalized proposal,<br />

contact Betty Assell at 800-842-7804<br />

or Bassell@catholicextension.org<br />

or visit catholicextension.org/annuities<br />

Please cut along<br />

the dotted line and<br />

mail to: Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, 150<br />

South Wacker<br />

Drive, Suite 2000,<br />

Chicago, IL 60606<br />

_____ Please contact me<br />


AGE<br />

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Catholic communities lift people up and save lives 22

18 INSPIRE<br />

Feature Story | Appalachia<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 19<br />


This summer <strong>2022</strong> issue of <strong>Extension</strong> magazine was originally<br />

devoted to the vibrant stories of faith and hope amid great hardships<br />

in Appalachia. However, the attack on Ukraine, and our subsequent<br />

immediate support to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, warranted<br />

the space on our cover to capture this moment in time. On the<br />

previous page we include our original cover concept as a special<br />

acknowledgement of the groundbreaking work of the Church in this<br />

challenged yet beautiful region.<br />


CHURCH’S<br />



Appalachia<br />

Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has<br />

invested $150<br />

million in the<br />

Church in the<br />

Appalachia<br />

region since<br />

1905.<br />






OHIO<br />


NEW YORK<br />


WEST<br />


SOUTH<br />




NORTH<br />



St. Ann Catholic Church in Deer Lodge,<br />

Tennessee, built with Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

support in 1913.<br />

In an area where less than 1 percent of the population<br />

is Catholic, Msgr. Ralph Beiting is remembered<br />

as one of the most prominent people in the<br />

foothills of eastern Kentucky.<br />

The tenacious pastor passed away in 2012, but<br />

his five decades of service laid the groundwork for the<br />

small but powerful presence of the Catholic Church<br />

in Appalachia today. He arrived in 1950, encountering<br />

economic and housing conditions that resembled<br />

something closer to a developing country. Roads were<br />

unpaved, treacherous and narrow. Homes were hardly<br />

more than shacks and didn’t have plumbing, electricity<br />

or insulation. Families and children were uneducated<br />

and had no access to medical care. Msgr. Beiting made<br />

it his mission to go out into the “hills and hollers” and<br />

bring the mercy of the Church to these communities.<br />

Twenty years after his missionary work began, he received<br />

the honorary title of monsignor by Pope Paul VI.<br />

In a story published in <strong>Extension</strong> magazine in 1986,<br />

Msgr. Beiting likened his ministry to the origins of<br />

Christianity. “In the early Church, the message of Christ<br />

had to be delivered directly to the people, in the streets<br />

of their towns and villages,” he said.<br />

Appalachia is as immense as it is beautiful, stretching<br />

from northern Alabama and Georgia to southern<br />

New York state. Although the region is abundant in natural<br />

resources, a large percentage of its inhabitants have<br />

never benefited from long-term economic prosperity.<br />

To this day, severe and persistent poverty is sadly the<br />

norm in many parts of Appalachia. This includes eastern<br />

Kentucky, where many counties experience the<br />

lowest household income, educational attainment and<br />

life expectancy in the country.<br />

The region, which is part of the <strong>Extension</strong>-supported<br />

Diocese of Lexington, has had a coal-based economy<br />

that has largely vanished. In the early 20th century, coal<br />

fueled the country’s industrial and economic boom.<br />

Msgr. Ralph Beiting, photographed by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> two years before being<br />

welcomed into eternal life in 2012.<br />

But the few well-paying jobs left in<br />

the mines today are a vestige of a<br />

bygone era.<br />


Through these overwhelming<br />

challenges, the people have<br />

found an uplifting voice and a helping<br />

hand in the Catholic Church.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has been present<br />

in the area since 1906—just a<br />

year after our founding—with a<br />

grant to help build a church in Jackson,<br />

Kentucky. Since then we have<br />

worked in solidarity with faith<br />

leaders in eastern Kentucky and<br />

throughout Appalachia to live out<br />

the Church’s mission by providing<br />

a spiritual presence and corporal<br />

mercy to all of God’s children.<br />

In 1925 <strong>Extension</strong> magazine<br />

shared a letter from Ann Steward,<br />

chairwoman of an organization<br />

working to develop missions<br />

in Tennessee. She focused on the<br />

community surrounding the humble<br />

Deer Lodge Chapel, which was<br />

built with support from Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>. “The little chapel, all<br />

unpainted, has for its only exterior<br />

mark of a house of Catholic worship,<br />

a cross that rises like the very<br />

spirit of hope against the outline of<br />

the nearby mountain ranges,” she<br />

wrote. “The mountaineers come<br />

miles and miles to the little chapel<br />

in the worst weather if they can get<br />

over the roads—and this is not always<br />

the case.”<br />

She described the perseverance<br />

St. Clare Chapel in Berea, Kentucky, began<br />

with nothing more than a run-down home and<br />

the determined spirit of Msgr. Ralph Beiting to<br />

serve God’s children in eastern Kentucky.<br />

of the Deer Lodge pastor: “Father<br />

Campbell travels the trails, seeking,<br />

inviting, encouraging, covering as<br />

much ground as any human being<br />

could cover; but it is an almost superhuman<br />

task for one man, even<br />

if he is a beloved priest, to build, to<br />

create, and to carry on in 12 counties<br />

and four mission stations.”<br />


Msgr. Beiting began his ministry<br />

in a similar way. Just a year after he<br />

was ordained in 1949, he was assigned<br />

to serve 3 1/2 counties.<br />

He asked God for the strength<br />

to take on the mammoth challenge<br />

and set to work. “I just fell in<br />

love with the Church as a missionary<br />

agent to bring God’s message<br />

to all those people who needed it,”<br />

he said.<br />

He planted a sign reading “St.<br />

Clare’s Catholic Chapel” in front<br />

of a run-down house that would<br />

serve as his church. Then he began<br />

to immerse himself in the community.<br />

In 2002 Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

helped build the church that<br />

is home to the parish today.<br />

The church is one of nine mission<br />

chapels that Msgr. Beiting<br />

would go on to found between 1951

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 21<br />

With your support<br />



Msgr. Beiting<br />

brought lifechanging<br />

services<br />

and hope to<br />

families in the<br />

heart of coal<br />

country for 50<br />

years.<br />

shines throughout America<br />


catholicextension.org/contribute<br />

or 1-800-842-7804<br />

Kenai in the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau, Alaska<br />

Msgr. Ralph Beiting shared a story in <strong>Extension</strong><br />

magazine in 1966 that described how his<br />

mission reached a family experiencing severe<br />

poverty. The children were given food and<br />

clothing so they could go to school. They were<br />

invited to Bible classes at the Catholic church,<br />

built with support from Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

and 1990, eight of which were established<br />

with support from Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

Although he knew how it was<br />

to be poor, having grown up during<br />

the Great Depression with 10 siblings,<br />

he was astounded by the<br />

conditions in which he found the<br />

Appalachian people. He discovered<br />

entire families living in debilitated<br />

structures with no modern<br />

amenities—often just a coal-burning<br />

stove. He encountered children<br />

with nothing to eat or wear. One<br />

family could only live in one of its<br />

two rooms because they had to<br />

tear up the floorboards of the second<br />

room to burn for heat.<br />

Msgr. Beiting decided to start a<br />

summer camp to give the children<br />

a place to go where they could eat<br />

steady meals, engage in healthy<br />

recreation and learn about God’s<br />

love and their own potential in life.<br />

“I could give them dreams.<br />

I can talk to them about a better<br />

tomorrow,” he said. The camp<br />

was created independently of the<br />

Church because he knew that if it<br />

> Several quotes and photos from Msgr.<br />

Beiting provided by the documentary “50<br />

Years in the Mountains,” produced by<br />

Pinnacle Productions for the Christian<br />

Appalachian Project.<br />

were labeled Catholic, the children<br />

would not be allowed to come due<br />

to long-held prejudice.<br />

Msgr. Beiting grew familiar with<br />

more families and their needs as<br />

he drove the children to and from<br />

the camp. He found that they<br />

wanted to be self-sufficient and<br />

find jobs to live independently.<br />

However, they lacked the education<br />

and skills to improve their situations.<br />

In 1964 he formed the Christian<br />

Appalachian Project—a nonprofit<br />

which now serves more than<br />

1 million people each year, across<br />

the 13 states of the Appalachian region.<br />

In addition to providing basic<br />

living essentials such as food and<br />

clothing, the organization supports<br />

early childhood education, home<br />

repair, care for elders, family counseling<br />

and more. “We’re going to<br />

do more than just give things away.<br />

We’re going to give opportunities<br />

away,” said Msgr. Beiting.<br />

Like the camp, the ambitious<br />

project was formed independently<br />

of the Church to better reach those<br />

it was designed to serve. Msgr. Beiting<br />

credits his bishops for understanding<br />

his vision and enabling<br />

this mission to reach as many people<br />

as possible.<br />

“It was a Catholic venture into<br />

ecumenism,” he said. “I don’t think<br />

there’s any other church that has<br />

ever made an ecumenical stand<br />

that is as powerful as the Catholic<br />

Church made with the Christian<br />

Appalachian Project.”<br />


Today, Msgr. Beiting’s pioneering<br />

spirit endures in the communities<br />

and hearts of those who continue<br />

the good works of the Church.<br />

New challenges—the pandemic,<br />

the continued decline of the coal<br />

industry, natural disasters, a rise in<br />

drug addictions—emerge relentlessly.<br />

They only add to the struggles<br />

in these mountains.<br />

But through these trials, the<br />

Catholic Church—though few in<br />

number—has remained a strong,<br />

steady and hope-filled presence.<br />

Our following stories detail how<br />

clergy and lay leaders are stepping<br />

up to answer today’s pressing physical<br />

and spiritual needs in Appalachia.<br />

They are fulfilling Msgr. Beiting’s<br />

decree:<br />

“You’re going to have to go out<br />

there and wade those creeks and<br />

climb those hills and get your feet<br />

wet and your hands dirty. You’re going<br />

to work.”

22 INSPIRE<br />

Feature Story | Appalachia<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 23<br />

A<br />

disabled woman<br />

with a leak in her<br />

ceiling is unable to<br />

repair her home.<br />

Two Catholic sisters<br />

and a group of volunteers come by<br />

to offer friendship and fix the leak.<br />

A retired mine worker, suffering<br />

from black lung disease, receives<br />

an electricity bill he cannot<br />

pay. He calls the electric company,<br />

and a representative tells him to<br />

get in touch with a Catholic church<br />

for help.<br />

These scenes are common in<br />

eastern Kentucky, where many<br />

counties endure some of the most<br />

extreme poverty in the United<br />

States. The region’s towns, left in<br />

decline largely due to the departure<br />

of the coal industry, are populated<br />

with households struggling to<br />

access the most basic necessities—<br />

food, heat, medical care, safe housing<br />

and more. But that is not where<br />

the story ends. Where there is poverty,<br />

there is also generosity. Where<br />

there is human and economic<br />

frailty, there is also immense faith<br />

and a sense of purpose. People<br />

lacking material goods often have a<br />

surplus of love.<br />

Although only a fraction of 1<br />

percent of the population is Catholic<br />

in this region, a resilient network<br />

of Catholic missions serves<br />

their communities, embracing<br />

their challenges and their inherent<br />

beauty.<br />

SEE THE<br />

FACE OF<br />

CHRIST<br />

IN EACH<br />

PERSON<br />







tled in a rare patch of flat land in<br />

the mountains. Inside, stacked<br />

among folding tables and in closets,<br />

are boxes and boxes of clothing,<br />

hygiene products and other<br />

household necessities.<br />

When Sister Marge Eilerman, a<br />

Sister of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio,<br />

arrived here in 1986, there was no<br />

church and only one Catholic person<br />

in the entire county. She turned<br />

an old smokehouse into a chapel<br />

and set to work reaching out to the<br />

community. People held misconceptions<br />

and misgivings about the<br />

Catholic Church’s presence, but<br />

through Sister Marge’s many years<br />

of ministry, she has become a beloved<br />

and trusted figure in town.<br />

Sister Angie Kiel, also a Sister<br />

of St. Francis of Tiffin, joined Sister<br />

Marge 12 years ago. They live in<br />

a trailer next to the church, previously<br />

owned and gifted to them by<br />

Msgr. Ralph Beiting (see his story<br />

on page 18). The parish has grown<br />

to 17 families, most of whom are<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> helped build Holy Trinity<br />

Catholic Church in Harlan, Kentucky, in 1949.<br />

converts. Each week’s collection<br />

averages to about $5. This might<br />

seem incredibly insignificant until<br />

one comprehends the scale of the<br />

mission that takes place beyond<br />

the walls of this humble mountain<br />

church.<br />

Under the leadership of the sisters,<br />

the parishioners of Holy Family<br />

have united with their community,<br />

which struggles with many<br />

Youth join Sisters Marge Eilerman and Angie Kiel, OSF, to serve the<br />

community in Booneville, Kentucky.<br />

hardships such as lack of employment<br />

opportunities and poor<br />

health. According to U.S. Census<br />

data, more than 35 percent of the<br />

population lives below the poverty<br />

line.<br />

People regularly turn to the parish,<br />

which does everything in its<br />

power to help with both short- and<br />

long-term challenges.<br />

The sisters have established a<br />

network of volunteers to assist<br />

with home repair. On such meager<br />

incomes, people have no money<br />

left over to fix leaking pipes or<br />

rotting floors, which are common<br />

problems in manufactured<br />

houses. For example, volunteers<br />

built a wheelchair ramp for a disabled<br />

elderly woman using funding<br />

from Sisters<br />

on the Frontlines—a<br />

Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> initiative<br />

that offered<br />

emergency<br />

grants to Catholic<br />

sisters serving<br />

in poor regions<br />

across the United<br />

States during the<br />

pandemic.<br />

More than just<br />

helping with the<br />

Sisters Marge<br />

Eilerman and<br />

Angie Kiel, OSF,<br />

promote hope<br />

and dignity to<br />

all in Booneville,<br />

Kentucky. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> helped<br />

build their logcabin-style<br />

Holy<br />

Family Catholic<br />

Church.<br />



In 1990 Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

helped build Holy Family Catholic<br />

Church in Booneville in the Diocese<br />

of Lexington, Kentucky. The<br />

charming log cabin church is nesimmediate<br />

needs of people, Holy<br />

Family takes a more wholistic approach<br />

to helping people by building<br />

relationships in the community.<br />

“The outreach has been a part<br />

of helping people live a more dignified<br />

life,” said Sister Marge. “It is<br />

more than repaid by the beauty of<br />

the people here.”<br />

“I like to serve here because the<br />

people are so honest and authentic,”<br />

said Sister Angie. “I really see<br />

the face of Christ in each person I<br />

meet, and that deepens my faith.”<br />

No problem is off-limits. They<br />

helped one mother escape with her<br />

children from an abusive relationship.<br />

They paid the electric bill for a<br />

grandmother taking care of her two<br />

teenage grandchildren, who needed<br />

to use the computer to do their<br />

homework.<br />

Each year during Christmas, the<br />

sisters set up a “store” that allows<br />

people, especially elders, to have<br />

their own private time to browse for<br />

much-needed items like soap, blankets,<br />

socks and more. Sister Angie<br />

said these community members<br />

tell her the experience makes<br />

them feel respected and dignified.<br />

“That brings the presence of Jesus<br />

to them,” she said.<br />

Although most who visit the

24 INSPIRE<br />

Feature Story | Appalachia<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 25<br />

church are not Catholic themselves,<br />

they find solace within its<br />

log walls.<br />

“The comment we get most frequently<br />

from people who visit the<br />

church here is that it is so peaceful.<br />

I think that’s something we all<br />

long for in our lives—to find a place<br />

where we can be at home,” said<br />

Sister Marge.<br />

“The other asset that people frequently<br />

attribute to our small parish<br />

here is that of hospitality. Everyone<br />

is welcome,” she added.<br />

“You are welcome as the person<br />

you are.”<br />

The Church community works<br />

hard to uphold Appalachian cultural<br />

traditions such as gardening and<br />

quilting by bringing the community<br />

together to pass along these<br />

teachings to the young people.<br />

Those who do join the parish<br />

find spiritual fulfillment in<br />

their small faith community<br />

and through the sacraments. An<br />

eighth-grade boy joined their vacation<br />

Bible school. He said, “I’d<br />

like to become Catholic because<br />

I have a hole in my heart and I<br />

think Jesus is the only one who<br />

can fill it.” After he completed<br />

the Rite of Christian Initiation of<br />

Adults (RCIA), his mother chose<br />

LEFT Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> supports the<br />

St. George Church<br />

faith community in<br />

Jenkins, Kentucky.<br />

RIGHT Missionaries<br />

of Charity Sisters<br />

Drita Maris, Abelette<br />

and Sujaya follow in<br />

the footsteps of their<br />

foundress, Mother<br />

Teresa, in serving the<br />

“poorest of the poor.”<br />

to be baptized along with her two<br />

daughters.<br />

The charismatic sisters and<br />

the hospitable Catholic community<br />

they lead have established<br />

long-standing relationships within<br />

and outside the community to<br />

help them in their mission.<br />


A two-hour drive south, Father<br />

Terrence de Silva leads faith<br />

communities and outreach in the<br />

heart of coal country. He is pastor<br />

of three churches: Holy Trinity in<br />

Harlan, St. Stephen in Cumberland,<br />

and the Church of the Resurrection<br />

in Lynch. Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

helped build Holy Trinity in 1949.<br />

Father de Silva arrived in 2019,<br />

the first residential priest at Holy<br />

Trinity after more than 32 years. He<br />

found a small but determined faith<br />

community that had persisted all<br />

those years without a priest. The<br />

previous year, a blow struck the already<br />

struggling community when<br />

a coal company went bankrupt<br />

and did not pay out wages to its<br />

employees.<br />

In the ensuing pandemic and<br />

declining local economy, Father de<br />

Silva has become familiar with the<br />

extreme need in the community.<br />

Father Terrence de Silva, pastor of Holy Trinity<br />

Catholic Church in the Diocese of Lexington,<br />

Kentucky, prepares boxes of food to distribute<br />

to families.<br />

tors are certified teachers. These<br />

services are a beacon of hope for<br />

families in an area working to overcome<br />

decades of poor education.<br />

Recently, during the pandemic,<br />

many children have fallen behind<br />

in their schooling because the internet<br />

quality is so poor.<br />

Trenna Cornett, the director of<br />

the program, has heard<br />

feedback from local<br />

schools that the preschoolers<br />

from the program<br />

are more prepared<br />

for kindergarten than any<br />

other children.<br />

“It’s more than tutoring.<br />

It gets to be mentoring,”<br />

she said. “We have<br />

children who come back<br />

year after year, and we<br />

have seen kids from detrimental<br />

situations who<br />

have done well.”<br />

Sometimes, while he<br />

is driving between parishes,<br />

Father de Silva<br />

spots someone walking<br />

along the road. It<br />

can take seven hours or<br />

more to walk between<br />

the nearest towns. He’ll<br />

pull over, offer a ride and<br />

tell them to come to the<br />

church for help.<br />



At first glance, it might<br />

seem unusual that four<br />

Missionaries of Charity,<br />

in their trademark blue<br />

and white veils, would<br />

come to the remote mountains<br />

of Kentucky to carry on the mission<br />

of their foundress, Mother Teresa.<br />

They are vowed to serve the<br />

“poorest of the poor”—a category<br />

more commonly associated with<br />

developing countries. But anyone<br />

who knows the situation in Jenkins<br />

will report that these sisters<br />

are living out their vocation to the<br />

fullest extent.<br />

Sisters Sujaya, Drita Maris,<br />

Abelette and Donald live in a<br />

People often call the parish<br />

asking for help with<br />

food, clothing and bills.<br />

It wasn’t long after he arrived<br />

that he learned the<br />

electric company itself<br />

was telling people to contact<br />

the Catholic Church<br />

for help. “This is what we<br />

have to do,” Father de<br />

Silva said. “Preaching is<br />

good. We have to let the<br />

people know what the<br />

Church teaches us and<br />

what Jesus has taught<br />

us. But we have to feed them first,<br />

right? Jesus did the same thing.”<br />

The food pantry at St. Stephen is<br />

the largest in the county, distributing<br />

600 boxes of food each month.<br />

People have said they would starve<br />

without it. The parish distributes<br />

food from Holy Trinity to about 50<br />

families in the area.<br />

The Holy Trinity property also<br />

contains additional school buildings,<br />

which are used for tutoring<br />

and preschool. All of the instructiny<br />

convent without television,<br />

phones or washing machines, in<br />

accordance with their vow of poverty.<br />

Nearby is St. George Church,<br />

a quaint white chapel tucked into<br />

the hills. The parish they serve<br />

is among hundreds of poor faith<br />

communities supported by Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

In 1982 Mother Teresa visited to<br />

mark the opening of the convent.<br />

“Wherever the sisters go they<br />

become the sunshine of God’s love,<br />

the hope of eternal happiness and<br />

the burning faith of God’s love.<br />

Wherever they go that is all I pray<br />

for,” she told reporters when the<br />

convent was opened.<br />

The sisters serving today are fulfilling<br />

these beautiful words of<br />

their foundress. They spend their<br />

days visiting houses and arranging<br />

the distribution of lifesaving<br />

supplies, bringing the mercy and<br />

love of Christ into people’s hearts<br />

and homes. They often find families,<br />

the elderly or the disabled surviving<br />

on the last crumbs of food<br />

or shivering in the cold and dark.<br />

The sisters once discovered an<br />

81-year-old woman keeping warm<br />

with just a hair dryer. They quickly<br />

brought her a space heater.<br />

These men and women in Appalachia<br />

who have committed their<br />

lives to serving God’s children express<br />

their profound joy in their<br />

work, regardless of its challenges.<br />

They know they are connected in<br />

mission with the countless individuals<br />

who send prayers and generous<br />

gifts, including those who support<br />

the mission of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

Down in Booneville, Sister<br />

Marge has a message for them:<br />

“Thank you for all you’re doing for<br />

the people of the mountains.”

26 INSPIRE<br />

Feature Story | Appalachia<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 27<br />

The Diocese of Lexington,<br />

Kentucky, serves<br />

the Appalachian<br />

Mountains, where<br />

Catholics represent<br />

less than one half of a percent of<br />

the total population in most of its<br />

counties. That means that the percentage<br />

of Catholics in Saudi Arabia<br />

is actually higher than it is in<br />

East Kentucky. Parishes are small,<br />

their facilities often are very simple,<br />

priests are few and far between,<br />

and the church’s financial<br />

means are extremely limited given<br />

that nearly all of the counties they<br />

serve in the mountains experience<br />

persistent poverty.<br />

But these limitations have never<br />

provided an excuse for self-pity or<br />

small thinking among the Catholics<br />

of the Appalachian Mountains.<br />

Instead, their circumstances have<br />

pushed them to be more committed<br />

to their faith and more dedicated<br />

to the Church’s mission of<br />

bringing good news and glad tidings<br />

to the poor.<br />

A largely dismantled coal industry,<br />

which was the longtime economic<br />

backbone of the region, has<br />

left many people in distress due to<br />

the challenges of poverty, food insecurity<br />

and inadequate housing<br />

that have ensued along with the<br />

dramatic economic downturn.<br />

Nonetheless, the Catholic<br />

Church, with as few resources and<br />

people as it has, still possesses a<br />

strong reputation in the area as the<br />

place where anyone who has need<br />

can get help.<br />


Queen of All Saints, a parish<br />

supported by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

in Beattyville, Kentucky, is a prime<br />

example. In 2020, a catastrophic<br />


TO HELP<br />

ANYONE<br />




flood destroyed all of its buildings,<br />

including its church, rectory and<br />

parish hall. Though the church remains<br />

in shambles, with its interior<br />

completely gutted, its mission<br />

remains alive and well.<br />

Phyllis Gardner is a parish volunteer<br />

who was attracted to the<br />

Catholic Church five years ago after<br />

she encountered Sisters Marge<br />

Eilerman and Angie Kiel, OSF (see<br />

page 22). She now works up to<br />

70 hours a week at the local parish<br />

outreach center in Beattyville,<br />

which delivers essential items to<br />

the poor and homeless. She perhaps<br />

more than most people can<br />

appreciate this church ministry as<br />

she too was homeless at one time.<br />

She ate out of dumpsters to survive.<br />

But she said the worst part of<br />

being homeless was “having people<br />

look down their noses at you.”<br />

ABOVE Queen<br />

of All Saints in<br />

Beattyville, Kentucky,<br />

is strengthened by<br />

many years of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> support.<br />

RIGHT Lori and<br />

Dan Helfrich<br />

build up faith and<br />

community as parish<br />

life coordinators<br />

at Mother of Good<br />

Counsel Parish in the<br />

Diocese of Lexington,<br />

Kentucky.<br />

Phyllis Gardner, who<br />

was once homeless<br />

herself, joined the<br />

mission of the Catholic<br />

Church to help serve<br />

the needy.<br />

Her mission is more than to<br />

just deliver items like coats, blankets<br />

and diapers, but rather to give<br />

the needy and homeless a sense<br />

of their God-given human dignity.<br />

She said her work is made possible<br />

through her love of Christ and<br />

her understanding of His self-sac-<br />

rificing love on behalf of all humanity.<br />

“We are all God’s children,”<br />

she said with conviction. “I love<br />

[the homeless]. If I see someone in<br />

need, I’ll help them.”<br />


In Hazard, Kentucky, Mother<br />

of Good Counsel Parish, with its<br />

70 active families, has an equally<br />

strong presence in the community.<br />

The last permanently stationed<br />

pastor to serve this parish left five<br />

years ago. Now the church, built by<br />

Catholic coal miners generations<br />

ago, has three itinerate priests who<br />

periodically travel into town to offer<br />

Masses. Meanwhile, the dayto-day<br />

administration and pastoral<br />

care of the community is led by<br />

a lay married couple, Lori and Dan<br />

Helfrich. Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> supports<br />

their positions.<br />

Originally from Illinois, the Helfrichs<br />

began their roles in Hazard<br />

as parish life coordinators in<br />

2018. They realized that to be effective<br />

they must be out in the<br />

community building relationships<br />

even though Catholics remain an<br />

incredibly small minority in the<br />

area.<br />

In addition to their<br />

regular parish duties<br />

of religious education<br />

and facility maintenance,<br />

their primary<br />

focus is to be a visible<br />

presence of the Catholic<br />

Church in Hazard.<br />

They do everything<br />

from supporting<br />

the local food pantry<br />

to working with organizations<br />

to help address<br />

housing issues.<br />

Because transportation is such a<br />

problem in the “hills and hollers”<br />

of Kentucky, poverty can sometimes<br />

be hidden away and the<br />

people in greatest need can be<br />

the hardest to reach. The Helfrichs<br />

build trust with and give voice to<br />

these vulnerable people.<br />

Artwork depicting “Our Lady<br />

of the Mines” at Mother<br />

of Good Counsel Parish in<br />

Hazard, Kentucky.<br />

They estimate that 80 percent of<br />

their time is spent out in the community.<br />

Instead of just maintaining<br />

the church property and its<br />

operations, they are maintaining<br />

the church’s reputation of a profound<br />

willingness to help anyone,<br />

no matter what religion or background.<br />

They strive to simply “be<br />

normal” and authentic to create alliances<br />

and bonds with others, instead<br />

of trying to assume ecclesial<br />

personas to gain credibility.<br />

Their approach works well as<br />

people place their trust in the<br />

Catholic parish, outside organizations<br />

collaborate with it, and some<br />

people even decide to join the<br />

Catholic Church. As many as one<br />

third of the parishioners are converts<br />

to the faith, with more joining<br />

each year since the Helfrichs’<br />

arrival.<br />

The Helfrichs now feel at home<br />

in Hazard and have a real familial<br />

sense of connection<br />

with the people of<br />

these mountains.<br />

For those who are<br />

unfamiliar with what it<br />

means to be a “church<br />

on a mission,” they<br />

should look no further<br />

than East Kentucky.<br />

This is a place in<br />

the country where the<br />

Catholic Church never<br />

had the option to rest<br />

on its laurels, rely on its<br />

existing institutional<br />

strength or lean on its strength in<br />

numbers. Instead, it has always<br />

been a collection of people, small<br />

in number but resolute and clear<br />

about their purpose and mission as<br />

a Catholic people.

IGNITE 29<br />

Connect<br />

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Making a difference<br />

From the mail<br />

In Texas, San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Mission exterior and interior<br />

Sister<br />

Bernadette<br />

Kenny, MMM,<br />

treats an<br />

Appalachian<br />

child in 1998. Her<br />

Health Wagon<br />

ministry has grown<br />

significantly<br />

through the<br />

support of donors<br />

Peter and Eileen<br />

Maren. See story,<br />

page 30.<br />

Greetings Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

MY NAME IS Father Brian Hess,<br />

and I’m the pastor of Corpus Christi,<br />

St. Paul’s, and St. Anthony’s in rural<br />

northeast Wyoming in the Diocese<br />

of Cheyenne. I am blessed to get to<br />

drive 150 miles every Sunday to minister<br />

to God’s people, and I’m so<br />

grateful for the grant to help offset the<br />

costs of those drives. Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

help enables us to devote more<br />

resources to form our parishioners<br />

and minister to the needy in our small<br />

towns.<br />

Living in small towns certainly<br />

comes with sacrifices (100-mile<br />

round trip to buy clothes, anyone?),<br />

but the blessings far outweigh the<br />

difficulties. We live close to nature<br />

thanks to our forest and our ranches,<br />

and this helps us to stay close to our<br />

God. And in parishes as small as ours,<br />

it’s easier to know all your brothers<br />

and sisters in Christ, and to be known<br />

by them in turn. The distances help to<br />

draw us closer, and we’re grateful for<br />


catholicextension.org<br />


twitter.com/Cath<strong>Extension</strong><br />

Dear donors,<br />

THANKS TO THE SUPPORT from Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, we were given an opportunity<br />

to build a new worship center which was much needed in our community.<br />

While reflecting on this past year and remembering all that our parish has<br />

accomplished, the main success story that comes to mind is how our parish<br />

has grown.<br />

The new mission began in a small portable chapel in the summer of 2018<br />

where about 50 members would come together to worship and grow closer to<br />

God. Within this past year our parish has grown to 600 families and is still continuing<br />

to grow. We cannot express how much this new worship center has<br />

had such a positive impact on our community here in El Paso, Texas.<br />

› Father Saul Pacheco | Pastor, San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Mission<br />

Diocese of El Paso, TX<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s help in covering<br />

those distances.<br />

› Father Brian Hess | Pastor, Corpus<br />

Christi, St. Paul’s and St. Anthony’s<br />

Diocese of Cheyenne, WY<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

I PARTICIPATED IN the Theology of<br />

the Body Retreat through the Diocese<br />

of Birmingham’s Hispanic youth<br />

ministry. The talks and activities were<br />

great, but the highlight for me was<br />

having perpetual adoration throughout<br />

the entire weekend. This allowed<br />

for personal time with the Lord to contemplate<br />

about what we were learn-<br />


facebook.com/Catholic<strong>Extension</strong><br />


instagram.com/Catholic<strong>Extension</strong><br />

ing. It was a very special experience.<br />

The joy on people’s faces after spending<br />

time with Jesus in adoration at 2, 3<br />

and 4 a.m. was indescribably beautiful<br />

to witness.<br />

› Hugo Castillo | Hispanic youth<br />

ministry participant<br />

Diocese of Birmingham, AL<br />


Please contact us at magazine@<br />

catholicextension.org or<br />

150 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 2000,<br />

Chicago, IL 60606

30<br />

IGNITE<br />

Donor Profile<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 31<br />

Endowment propels Health Wagon<br />

in Appalachia to the next level<br />

Twenty years later,<br />

gift continues<br />

to advance lifesaving<br />

health care services<br />

in the mountains<br />

of Virginia<br />

In 1998 a story in <strong>Extension</strong><br />

magazine arrived in the<br />

Florida home of longtime<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> donors<br />

Peter and Eileen Maren and<br />

captured their attention.<br />

The article detailed the ministry of<br />

Sister Bernadette Kenny, a nurse<br />

practitioner and Medical Missionary<br />

of Mary. The devoted sister,<br />

affectionately known in the community<br />

as Sister Bernie, spent her<br />

days driving up and down the steep<br />

Appalachian hills of southwest Virginia<br />

in a Winnebago motor home.<br />

The old, run-down vehicle had<br />

been converted into a mobile clinic<br />

to deliver free health care to those<br />

living in isolation and poverty in<br />

one of the country’s most economically<br />

depressed areas.<br />

Sister Bernie had been serving<br />

the people in the Diocese of Richmond<br />

for 20 years, initially working<br />

out of her Volkswagen Beetle<br />

to provide health care and a kind,<br />

listening ear. She had just received<br />

the Lumen Christi Award, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s highest honor given to<br />

people who radiate and reveal the<br />

light of Christ present in the communities<br />

where they serve.<br />

Eileen was immediately curious.<br />

“Appalachia always held<br />

an interest for me,” she said. “I<br />

always had it in the back of my<br />

head, wanting to visit it. And I<br />

guess God knew that because He<br />

sent <strong>Extension</strong> magazine to us,<br />

and the article hit my eye.”<br />

Care in our own country<br />

The Marens understand the<br />

importance of providing care and<br />

service within their community<br />

and to our country. Eileen, who<br />

grew up in the Bronx, enjoyed<br />

working one-on-one with patients<br />

as a nurse for 25 years. Peter,<br />

originally from New Jersey, served<br />

in the Army for four years. He and<br />

Eileen met in Florida as he began<br />

his 32-year-long career at the<br />

University of Florida as a benefits<br />

administrator. They believe it<br />

is only human to recognize and<br />

respond to the need of those in<br />

our own backyard, especially<br />

Appalachia. Although the people<br />

are often known as the “forgotten<br />

poor in America,” they have so<br />

much to offer through their resil-<br />

ience, kindness and culture.<br />

Inspired by the lifesaving<br />

work of Sister Bernie and her<br />

shoestring budget ministry, the<br />

Marens decided to give a $1 million<br />

endowment to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

to fund the Health Wagon. On giving<br />

to <strong>Extension</strong>, Peter said, “You<br />

know where your money’s going—<br />

it’s going directly to the people.”<br />

Through this generous gift,<br />

Sister Bernie’s humble ministry<br />

has grown into a well-established<br />

network of nurses and physicians<br />

who provide every aspect<br />

TOP LEFT Through the support of<br />

Peter and Eileen Maren, the Health<br />

Wagon has grown to three fully<br />

equipped mobile health clinics and<br />

two permanent buildings.<br />

LEFT Eileen and Peter Maren visit a<br />

Health Wagon medical fair in Wise,<br />

Virginia.<br />

Sister Bernadette<br />

Kenny,<br />

MMM, worked<br />

out of a converted,<br />

worn-down<br />

motor home<br />

when Peter and<br />

Eileen Maren<br />

first read about<br />

the Health<br />

Wagon.<br />

of quality health care, including<br />

vision, dental and many specialized<br />

fields of medicine. The<br />

ministry’s three mobile clinics<br />

are now equipped with top-ofthe-line<br />

medical equipment and<br />

supplies. Sister Bernie is no longer<br />

driving the mammoth vehicles.<br />

Now in her 80s, she handed the<br />

reins to a longtime nurse and<br />

colleague several years ago. Even<br />

so, Sister Bernie continues to be<br />

a guiding presence of healing<br />

and love within the Appalachian<br />

community.<br />

The Marens visited this corner<br />

of Virginia several times, and<br />

they have witnessed firsthand the<br />

transformative work of the Health<br />

Wagon. They have met those who<br />

have been empowered by the<br />

ministry to improve their health<br />

and that of their loved ones. The<br />

ministry, which values inclusiveness,<br />

spirituality and community<br />

collaboration, ensures its patients<br />

have free access to health education<br />

in addition to its exceptional<br />

health care. “It’s a very humbling<br />

experience,” said Eileen.<br />

A gift that goes the distance<br />

The Marens appreciate the<br />

ministry’s universal approach,<br />

which mirrors that of the Catholic<br />

Church—to extend love and care<br />

to all, regardless of faith or background.<br />

Two decades after their<br />

contribution, their gift continues<br />

to be a reliable source of funding.<br />

The financial assets, managed by<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, are invested<br />

soundly and will help the ministry<br />

continue to grow in its mission.<br />

“It’s very rewarding to see<br />

situations like the Health Wagon,<br />

where they’ve done very positive<br />

things. Part of that is investing the<br />

money correctly,” said Peter. “As<br />

a result, they’ve grown leaps and<br />

bounds.”<br />

Through their gift, the Marens<br />

initiated a ripple effect that will<br />

drastically improve the lives of the<br />

people in this region for generations<br />

to come. “I think you’ll see<br />

that the younger generation will<br />

start to thrive, and you’ll have a<br />

more positive situation,” said<br />

Peter. “We wouldn’t have been<br />

able to do what we did if it wasn’t<br />

through Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.”

150 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2000<br />

Chicago, IL 60606<br />

The St. Francis of Assisi parish and school in the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico, is supported by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

How will you be remembered?<br />

Do you want to support Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> in a meaningful way?<br />

Learn how you can build a legacy of faith, hope and change in the lives of<br />

Catholics in America for generations to come.<br />

Contact the Planned Giving team at 1-800-842-7804<br />

or plannedgiving@catholicextension.org

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