7 Photos of Catholic Mass from America’s Peripheries

There are 70 million registered Catholics in the United States. Some gather in ornate churches in big cities, while others celebrate their faith in more simple settings.

Catholic Extension and our donors walk in solidarity with Catholic communities on the peripheries—some of the most remote and impoverished areas of our country. It is here that we see that the faith that unites us knows no one location, language, or race.

There is beauty in our diverse expressions of faith. Take a look:

Camden, Mississippi 

Young altar servers wait for Mass to begin at Sacred Heart Church. In the small, rural community where only 2 percent of the population is Catholic and many live in poverty, the parish provides community services through a food pantry, after-school programs, and a health clinic.

Catholic Altar servers in Camden Mississippi

Erwin, Tennessee 

During the summer, migrant farmworkers gather with Father Tom Charters early each Wednesday morning in the Appalachian hills of Tennessee. They worship together at a small barn next to their temporary housing, finding peace and strength in the Eucharist before going out to the fields.

Trapper Creek, Alaska 

Families pray together during Mass in Trapper Creek, an Alaskan town with a population of less than 600. Some tiny towns in Alaska are only accessible by plane or boat, with limited access to Mass and the sacraments.

Catholic families at Mass in Alaska

El Paso, Texas 

The southern border straddles the two distinct, but inseparable, cities of El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Despite changing immigration policies, the Catholic communities of the two cities have shown their unity multiple times through Mass on the border.

In this photo, those gathered for the celebration can be seen lining the border fence in the background.

Priest gives communion at Catholic Mass on the border

Browning, Montana 

Every summer the Blackfeet tribe hosts Indian Days, a four-day powwow that attracts 10,000 participants who stay in teepees and tents on campgrounds. On Sunday morning, hundreds gather for a Mass that incorporates Native traditions and unique practices, like gathering the collection in a colorful blanket.

Collection blanket at Native American Catholic Mass

Hatch, New Mexico

In the Fall, farmworkers in Hatch Valley start at dawn and fan through the fields, quickly picking chiles, filling buckets and dumping the crop in a tractor-trailer. It is intense, back-breaking, tedious work.

Father Reyes of Our Lady of All Nations Mission Church often goes to the fields to be with the workers. He pitches a tent to offer Confession, and gathers the workers together for Mass.

Catholic Mass in the fields with migrant farmworkers

Perris, California 

A man kneels on the sidewalk outside of St. James the Less Church in California in 2014. The community there is one that had grown rapidly, with parishioners spilling out into the streets during Mass because there was no room inside the church. Thanks to our donors, the parish now has a new church in which to worship, with space for all to gather together.

Man kneeliing outside crowded church in Perris California

Did you know? Our grants support every 1 in 5 Catholics in the United States—in places where resources are scarce, but faith is strong. Your donation can help build up vibrant and transformative Catholic communities across our country.

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