Appalachians 1
Virginia 1
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It was October 1973 when the first Divine Word Missionaries arrived in Appalachia. It was intended to be a place where missionaries returning from overseas could continue a valuable sacramental and social ministry in rural small towns.

During the past 45 years, the goal has remained much the same: serve the rural poor in a part of the country where Catholics are a distinct minority. What better place to engage in prophetic dialogue with faith-seekers, the unchurched and people of other religions?

At first, the residents of central West Virginia were as skeptical of these “foreigners” as people of other places were when missionaries from the United States came to their countries. Over time, the Divine Word Missionaries have gained acceptance and become appreciated for the witness and assistance they bring.


Parish ministry provides the main structure for the work that takes place in the district. In addition to sacramental ministry, there is special emphasis on ecumenical outreach through the local ministerial associations and on social outreach. A food pantry and utility assistance are provided to those in need.

Community Life

The distance and geographical location of the parishes is always an issue within the district. With winding, narrow, two-lane roads, it can take an hour to travel 30 miles in good conditions and twice as long or not at all if the roads are snow covered or icy. The seven members of the district try their best to gather for prayer and dinner every month.

This is the time when they can share pleasantries and challenges in their ministry and enjoy each other’s company. If you have never been to Appalachia, consider driving those country roads that John Denver sang about to see a beautiful part of the country, the people who make their homes in these small towns, and the Chicago Province members who bring them the Good News.

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