Assisting Globally and Locally: CRS Rice Bowl, Other Activities Reach Out in Mercy to Our Brothers and Sisters in Need
The mission of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), established in 1943, is to carry out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies. CRS also serves Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.
In the Diocese of Charlotte, the coordination of CRS programming takes place out of Catholic Charities’ Office of Social Concerns and Advocacy, whose director serves as the CRS diocesan liaison, appointed to that role by Bishop Peter J. Jugis. This diocesan based work is assisted by the CRS Southeast regional office in Atlanta, Georgia, a team of volunteers from the Diocese of Charlotte who serve on an advisory committee, and many parish and school Rice Bowl coordinators. CRS resources can be found at http://www.crs.org/get-involved/participate. CRS has also produced special resources to celebrate the Year of Mercy, located at http://www.crs.org/stories/year-mercy-resources.
Contributions to CRS are made through the Lenten Rice Bowl, Work of Human Hands fair trade sales, and Helping Hands events. Each of these programs have educational components integrated with prayer to nurture a deeper commitment for those who are poor. Special collections have been held when major disasters or international emergencies have occurred. When calamities such as earthquakes and floods occur and great numbers of human lives are affected, CRS serves as frontline representatives of the Catholic Church in the USA, providing life saving measures and long term recovery activities. In recent years, the people of the Diocese of Charlotte have responded with great generosity to such disaster appeals - when the Southeast Asian tsunami devastated an entire global region (2004), when Haiti was struck by an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude (2010), and when much of the Philippines was literally swamped by the massive Typhoon Haiyan (2013). In the past year, the people of the Diocese of Charlotte responded to an appeal by CRS and the U.S. Bishops to assist those fleeing violence in Syria and living in camps in neighboring lands (e.g., Lebanon, Jordan, and the Kurdish region of Iraq).
During Lent, through CRS Rice Bowl, parishes and schools engage in global solidarity through activities that promote prayer, fasting, learning, and giving. Participating parishes and schools receive small “rice bowl” cardboard collection boxes to distribute to parishioner and student households. Rice Bowl coordinators also receive a poster, a Lenten calendar, and an implementation guide. The 2016 CRS Rice Bowl theme is “For Lent, For Life – What Your Give Up For Lent Changes Lives.” CRS Rice Bowl begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10. If a diocesan parish or school did not participate in the 2015 CRS Rice Bowl, but would like to do so during Lent of 2016, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to initiate the process. Parishes and schools that participated in CRS Rice Bowl in 2015 need not submit an order for 2016 CRS Rice Bowl materials, and should expect the same number of Rice Bowl items as received for Lent in 2015. For every three dollars in CRS Rice Bowl funds that go from the diocese to CRS for its global projects, one dollar remains in the diocese for local poverty and hunger alleviation projects funded by Catholic Charities’ CRS Rice Bowl Mini-Grants. Visit www.ccdoc.org/cchdcrs for more information about these grants.
Through the good works of CRS in 101 countries, that foster charity and justice, Catholics in the U.S. share in the works of mercy of the Church. I encourage you to read the column of Dr. Carolyn Woo (CRS CEO and President) offering her reflections on the Jubilee Year of Mercy: http://www.crs.org/media-center/mercy-heart-stone-heart-flesh.
Visit CRS at crs.org and crsespanol.org.
[Obtain a two-page handout in PDF listing CRS Parish Resources designed to enrich parish ministries, offered in both English and Spanish, here: 2015-Parish-Resource-Guide-English-and-Spanish-Versions.pdf]
By Joseph Purello,
Director of Social Concerns and Advocacy