February 2, 2016 // Local

CRS Rice Bowl inspires Catholics to do more with less at Lent

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND — This Lent, as they have for four decades, millions of Catholics around the United States will place a colorful cardboard box and calendar in their homes to begin a spiritual journey that changes lives around the world.

They will be participating in the 41st year of CRS Rice Bowl, a program with an effect that goes far beyond the funds it raises for those who need support and services in communities throughout the United States and overseas.

For Catholic families, the “CRS Rice Bowl Effect” begins conversations about Lent and their faith, about the role of charity, and about the many different people who make up the world family. For Catholic parishes and schools, it unites communities for Lenten faith reflection around the spirit of serving those in need and the good work of the Church around the globe. And for those who benefit from its charity, the “Rice Bowl Effect” is a key to a better life.

“There is something truly wonderful about the impact CRS Rice Bowl has on our Catholic community and on the people we serve,” said Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. Operations for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). “What we are calling the ‘Rice Bowl Effect’ unites us as a faith community in the service of helping others. It links us to our brothers and sisters around the world through stories, recipes, reflections and prayer. And best of all, this effect can be an experience that starts with the very young and extends throughout our lifetimes.”

Rosenhauer noted that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, CRS Rice Bowl opens a special door for Catholics to learn more about — and participate in — the works of mercy done in their name by CRS, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.

“For CRS, the preferential love for those oppressed by poverty is at the heart of our work,” said Rosenhauer. “This year, we have helped improve the lives of millions of people in over 100 countries, work that began when we helped refugees during World War II. CRS Rice Bowl plays a significant role in making sure we are ready and able to do such work, the good news, the merciful story of our Church.”

Twenty-five percent of all contributions stay in local dioceses to support hunger and poverty prevention programs such as community gardens, food pantries, soup kitchens, support groups and job centers. The remaining 75 percent goes to support CRS’ humanitarian programs overseas, providing life-saving assistance and hope to impoverished and vulnerable communities.

Since its start in a parish in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as a response to the famine in the African Sahel region in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl has evolved into a national response to hunger around the world, used by over 13,000 Catholic schools and parishes during the season of Lent.

In its 41 years, CRS Rice Bowl has lifted generations of people out of poverty through the programs it supports. An orphaned child in a small village in the West African country of Ghana, Thomas Awiapo was lured to school by the smell of food. By satisfying his hunger, he found a love for learning and went on to college and graduate school in the United States.

The feeding program in the school Thomas Awiapo attended was supported by CRS Rice Bowl. In an amazing twist of fate, Awiapo, with a master’s degree in public administration, became an employee for CRS.

To donate and learn more about CRS Rice Bowl, visit crsricebowl.org or download the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.

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