Embodying the Church’s concern for Black and Indian peoples of the United States, the Black and Indian Missions Collection will take place in parishes of the Diocese of Trenton the weekend of Feb. 4-5. For almost 140 years the Catholic Church in the U.S. has been vigilant about the financial support of Black and Indian Missions, taking up a nationwide annual collection usually on the first weekend in Lent.

The national collection began at the behest of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1884, with funds distributed as grants through the Black and Indian Mission Office to dioceses throughout the nation to help strengthen evangelization programs. Recipient populations include Black, American Indian, Eskimo and Aleute communities of the U.S.

The BIMO and the collection were the first of their kind in the United States. The office comprises three distinct but related organizations: the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions (est. 1874); the Commission for the Catholic Missions (est. 1884) and the Catholic Negro-American Mission Board (est. 1907). Each organization cooperates with diocesan communities to spread the Gospel and to respond to real and pressing needs. Grants through the BIMO support schools and religious education programs, enliven parish life and catechesis, help educators reach students and encourage vocations.

Father Maurice Henry Sands, executive director of BIMO, entreats all Catholic faithful on the organization’s website to pray, fast and give alms toward the missions. “Your prayer support is critical,” he writes. “We are … in need of your constant prayers for the work of our office, for those in service of the Gospel, and for those they serve. Pray for those whose lives are enriched by the support of our office! Pray for the success of our missionaries’ work!”

For more information or if you miss the collection in parishes, visit blackandindianmission.org.