Published January 28, 2019
BALTIMORE—A young South Sudanese refugee raising her siblings in Uganda’s Bidi Bidi refugee settlement. A father returning home after decades of civil war in Sri Lanka to find his farm overgrown. A young woman unable to find work in Gaza—and forbidden from seeking opportunity abroad. These are just some of the stories participants will explore through CRS Rice Bowl, CRS’ Lenten faith-in-action program.
This year, Lent begins on March 6, Ash Wednesday.
Following the lead of Pope Francis, CRS Rice Bowl invites Catholics across the country to take part in the second year of Share the Journey, a global campaign launched by the pope to raise awareness and inspire action on behalf of migrants and refugees worldwide.
“We hear about migration and refugees in the news every day,” said Beth Martin, director of U.S. Programs for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). “We encounter so many families around the world forced to migrate, either because of conflict and violence or the inability to make a living, and their stories lead us to a more human understanding of this complex issue.”
CRS Rice Bowl has been sharing the stories of women, men and children with whom CRS works for nearly 45 years. Built around the Lenten spiritual pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, the program has been a tradition for thousands of Catholic families in every diocese in the U.S.
Every year, people in more than 14,000 faith communities across the country are using nearly 4 million ‘rice bowls’ for almsgiving, resulting in nearly $12 million annually—$9 million of which supports CRS programs around the world. The remaining $3 million, or 25 percent of total alms collected, stays in the local dioceses, supporting hunger and poverty alleviation efforts.
The Justice and Peace Ministries program of the Archdiocese of Atlanta encourages parishes and schools to place their order for free rice bowls, available in both English and Spanish, at http://www.crsricebowl.org. The CRS Rice Bowl website includes weekly Stories of Hope for use in classrooms and parishes.
This year the Lenten campaign will bring attention to the plight of those living in Guatemala, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone and Gaza.