Before the Catholic Home Missions Appeal was taken up recently in parishes of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Archbishop Charles Chaput learned that local Catholics donated $306,628 in last year’s collection.

The appeal aids isolated, rural and financially struggling Catholic dioceses in the United States, according to a letter to the archbishop dated March 28 from Bishop Paul Etienne of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming. He leads the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions.

The bishop offered personal insight into the appeal’s impact on his statewide diocese that encompasses 72 parishes and missions consisting of “sparse populations and long distances between parishes,” he wrote in the letter.

Grants from the collection are used in his diocese — along with more than 80 others in the country — to help staff mission parishes, cover priests’ travel expenses to far-flung churches, and provide youth ministry to help young people stay rooted in their faith, according to Bishop Etienne.

Contributions to the Catholic Home Missions Appeal “help the faith grow and thrive in places where it would otherwise be much more difficult,” he wrote.