CHICAGO (CNS) — Mission dioceses from all over the country have nominated “their best, brightest and most inspiring people” for Catholic Extension’s 42nd annual Lumen Christi Award.

The list of nominees includes pastors, sisters, brothers, lay leaders, deacons and community groups serving the Catholic Church in 48 mission dioceses across the United States. The full list with photos and profiles of each nominee can be found online here.

The award — which means “Light of Christ” — is the highest honor bestowed by the Chicago-based Catholic Extension, a national organization that raises and distributes funds to support U.S. mission dioceses, many of which are rural, cover a large geographic area, and have limited personnel and pastoral resources. It has been supporting the work and ministries of these mission dioceses since its founding in 1905.


“These 48 nominees are hidden heroes in our midst who are working selflessly to bring life and hope to the forgotten corners of our country, inspiring those around them to be the ‘Light of Christ’ as well,” said an Aug. 20 news release on the nominees.

The nominees show “the enormous breadth” of the U.S. Catholic Church, it said.

Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, said: “These nominees tirelessly build communities united in faith. Though they go about their work quietly, the light they bring to those they serve shines ever bright.”

Each Lumen Christi Award nominee receives $1,000 in support of his or her ministry, and the award recipient is given a $50,000 grant, with the honoree and nominating diocese each receiving $25,000 of the grant money to enhance their community and ministry. The winner will be announced later in the year.

Last year’s recipient was Sister Marie-Paule Willem, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, serving in the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. She was honored for a lifetime of missionary work.