Ahead of the upcoming Lenten season, parishes across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will be participating in the annual Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Program by distributing the cardboard “bowls” in which the faithful are being invited to collect money to help fund vital initiatives to support the poor in the area and around the world.
In this time of Eucharistic Revival, we are reminded that the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist commits and directs Catholics to love of the poor – all of whom bear the image of Christ. The annual Lenten Rice Bowl Program has its roots in an earlier Eucharistic Congress, and since 1975 has been a beautiful and simple way for families to share their wealth with local communities in great need and those around the world. It has grown to provide support for life to more than 250 million people in more than 120 countries. Since its inception, CRS Rice Bowl has raised more than $330 million for relief and development work.
Of the Lenten almsgiving donated annually to CRS, 75 percent of the money given is distributed in support of vital CRS efforts around the world, while 25 percent of this Lenten almsgiving is shared to address poverty, hunger, and need in the local diocese. In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, a quarter of the CRS Rice Bowl donations is gifted to support the important, hope-inspiring work of Catholic Charities of Fort Wayne-South Bend as it ministers to the most vulnerable in our region (more on this stabilizing, supportive, pro-life work can be found at ccfwsb.org).
“Ash Wednesday always marks the beginning of CRS Rice Bowl,” said Beth Martin, CRS’ director of Formation and Mobilization. “And this year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 14, or St. Valentine’s Day, and we think CRS Rice Bowl is the perfect way to celebrate the love we have for our global family.”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” When we receive Jesus through the Eucharist, our hearts are filled with His love and the call to share that love. “During Lent, we are meant to express the love that we feel when we receive the Eucharist through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,” Martin said. “CRS Rice Bowl gives us the means to do that – to put our love into action.”
“Love can be expressed in so many ways,” Martin said. “Even through a small act such as giving up your daily cup of coffee and instead, donating that money to CRS Rice Bowl. That small sacrifice – that small act of love – can change the lives of so many people.”
One can learn more about the stories of hope and gratitude of those abroad whose lives have been bolstered by the efforts of CRS at crsricebowl.org. Also available on that website are an abundance of free resources for families, parishes, schools, and organizations crafted to help guide those participating throughout the journey through Lent. The resources range from prayers and reflections to educational materials to recipes to the familiar cardboard rice bowl coin boxes.
For those choosing to participate in the CRS Rice Bowl program this year, donations can be made through parishes or directly to CRS online. Contact Shawn Storer at [email protected] for information.
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