CHICAGO — The 34 nominees for Catholic Extension’s 2021-2022 annual Lumen Christi Award are “as varied as the church itself and have shown great resolve during this most difficult year,” said the Chicago-based organization.

The award — which is Latin for the “Light of Christ” — is Catholic Extension’s highest honor, and is bestowed on a missionary working in the United States.

Those up for the award have been nominated “as hidden heroes of the church who are serving their communities selflessly to bring faith and hope to the forgotten corners and peoples of our country, inspiring those around them to be the ‘Light of Christ’ as well,” a news release said.

“This diverse group of clergy, lay leaders, religious, and community groups show the enormous breadth of the Catholic Church across the country,” it added.

Catholic Extension supports 86 dioceses across the country and annually asks bishops of those dioceses to nominate their most inspiring people for the annual Lumen Christi Award.

The full list of nominees, announced May 24, as well as their stories can be found at

The 44th annual nominees include two religious sisters in Knoxville, Tennessee, who serve a Hispanic community recently impacted by tornadoes; a pastor in Jackson, Mississippi, who ministers to a Native American community ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic; and a laywoman in Arkansas who provides health services to thousands of uninsured people, among many more.

“This past year has been filled with struggle and hardship, especially for the poor and vulnerable, but these selfless nominees continued to put others first and led with great faith and courage,” said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension.

Since its founding in 1905, Catholic Extension, a Chicago-based papal society, raises funds to help build faith communities and churches in poor Catholic dioceses.

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 to enhance their community and ministry.

Last year’s winner was Father Ron Foshage, a missionary priest ministering in the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas. A member of the Our Lady of La Salette religious congregation, he was honored for “his tireless work” in bringing people in the community together regardless of color or religion.