This past week the Brookings Institute released a report on the "Concentrated Poverty" in Metropolitan America. It contained the sobering statistic that 15% Americans are living below the poverty line. Soon the U.S. Census is supposedly going to release it's updated reports on the poverty rates in the United States. I admit that although I find this data is fascinating it can also be overwhelming to try and know what it all means? Sometimes I don't understand why different reports have varied results even though they claim to contain the same information. And sometimes I don't know who to believe when the reports have conflicting information or because certain groups disagree with the results stating that other groups studies did not accurately portray all the data... The bottom line though is that these poverty studies do show that there are many people who are struggling and suffering in the U.S. at this time.
I tend to believe my theory that when people who live in the cities and metropolitan areas are struggling economically as many recent studies have shown, that usually means the folks who live in the rural areas are suffering even more. My unscientific data is from my lived experience in the Glenmary missions. I have seen that the people in rural areas have less access to the resources that are available in the larger metropolitan and urban areas. I don't know if one can say that the poverty is worse in these areas because poverty is poverty wherever you are living but in the rural areas the needs are tremendous. According to the U.S. Census data, in Chicaksaw County Mississippi, a Glenmary mission area, over 27% of the population is struggling below the national poverty level - nearly twice the national average!
Two interesting maps below: The first is a U.S. Census Bureau map showing the percentage of people living in poverty in the United States. The second map shows the percentage of Catholic adherents in each county in the U.S.. It is fascinating how these two maps correspond in a many places - highest levels of poverty and least number of Catholics... This is Mission Land USA - this is where Glenmary serves the spiritual and material needs of the people living in these areas.There are many more mission areas like Chickasaw County that Glenmary has not reached yet and the Church needs your help to get there. Is this where God is calling you to serve?