March 14, 2023 // National

CRS Rice Bowl 2023 — A Journey to Three Countries

BALTIMORE — Since 1975, CRS Rice Bowl, the brightly colored cardboard almsgiving box that is a familiar annual Lenten sight in parishes across the country, has invited Catholics to pray, fast, and give in solidarity with the world’s poor.

This year, the CRS Rice Bowl Stories of Hope take us to Honduras, Kenya, and the Philippines, where we’ll learn how people are overcoming the causes of hunger and adapting to climate change. As you journey with us during Lent, remember that through prayer, God invites us to slow down in the silence and look for Him around us — in nature and in people who need us most. Our fasting is an act of solidarity with people who are hungry — and it helps us feel a small part of what they are living day by day. It is in this spirit that our almsgiving is an act of love for God and neighbor. Through giving, there is no limit to what we can achieve together to serve people impacted by climate.

Rhodora Enecillo serves dinner to her granddaughters, Loraine and Kate, at their home in Northern Samar, Philippines. Mealtime is when the whole family can share time together while eating healthy food from their farm and fishpond.
For many years, Raul and Rhodora Enecillo were coconut farmers but found it difficult to earn enough income to support their family. Recently, they were invited to join a CRS program where they received training and assistance to build their own fishpond. Now they can sell fish at the market, as well as provide nutritious food for their family. Through the program, Raul and Rhodora also learned how to better prepare for their region’s increasing number of natural disasters, including typhoons, flooding, earthquakes and landslides. Raul and Rhodora take care of their two granddaughters, Loraine and Kate, and can now provide them with a more comfortable life so they can enjoy their childhood and finish school.
Photo by Geela Garcia for Catholic Relief Services

A Story of Hope from the Philippines

Raul and Rhodora Enecillo live on their farm in Northern Samar, Philippines, with their granddaughters Loraine and Kate.

Raul and Rhodora get up at 5 a.m. each day to tend to the fish pond, pigs, and chickens before getting their granddaughters off to school. Education is important to Raul and Rhodora. Their dream is that Loraine and Kate will graduate from college and get good jobs — Loraine wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

For years, Raul and Rhodora worked hard as coconut farmers. After harvesting, they prepared the coconuts for making oil — but it took a lot of work before they made money. On top of that, periods of heavy rain caused flooding, making farming difficult.

Then Raul and Rhodora participated in a Catholic Relief Services program where they received training and assistance to build their own fish pond. They bought little fish to stock the pond, fish food, and a net. The fish grew bigger, and soon they were able to sell them at the market. The fish pond also provided food for their family so they could enjoy nutritious meals together.

“Life is so much easier now that we have the fish for our daily living,” Rhodora says.

In the program, Raul and Rhodora also learned how to better prepare for the increasing natural disasters in their area — like typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, and landslides. They made improvements to their house, using stronger, sturdier materials to protect their home and family.

Since joining the program, Raul and Rhodora added two more fish ponds along with pigs and chickens. With the extra income from their farm, their granddaughters can enjoy their childhood and live a more comfortable life, giving them the opportunity to study hard and finish school.

“I have many dreams for my family and my grandchildren,” Raul says. “I hope I can give them something good.”

For more information about the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl program and to donate, visit

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