By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Pope Francis asks people of all ages to help those most in need, especially the weak and vulnerable, and Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Rice Bowl program will make that request easier to meet this Lenten season — which begins March 5.
The little cardboard boxes that are such a visible part of the Rice Bowl program represent a tangible way parishes, schools and families can bring Lent to life by praying, fasting and almsgiving, Catholic Relief Service personnel have taught over the years.
Last year the Rice Bowl program raised $10 million to help feed the hungry around the world. Of that figure, $7.5 million went to countries aided by CRS, the international aid organization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The remaining $2.5 million was put to use in the U.S., according to CRS figures.
Last Wednesday, about 150 junior high and high school students from 28 schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville gathered at Holy Cross High School for the CRS Rice Bowl Luncheon — the event that serves as the local kickoff to the Rice Bowl program.
Deacon Lucio Caruso read a letter written by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who was in Rome attending meetings. In the letter the archbishop said he was able to see firsthand the work of Catholic Relief Services on his recent trip to the Philippines.
The archbishop noted that the people of the Catholic Church donated more than $10 million through special collections organized by CRS in December of 2013 to help with the relief efforts following the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines last November.
Thomas Awiapo also spoke to the students and shared how CRS Rice Bowl saved his life when he was a small child in Ghana. Awiapo now works for CRS and trains community leaders throughout Ghana.
Awiapo said the world is consumed by greed and one way to fight the greed is with the CRS Rice Bowl.
“You call it Rice Bowl. I call it the Gospel of love,” he said. Rice Bowl is “The Gospel of love, the Gospel of hope and compassion and justice for millions and millions of people around the world.”
He told the students their sacrifices of nickels and dimes really do make a difference.
“I’m sure the question you are asking yourself is ‘does the $10 million make a difference, has it changed a life, does it make a difference in the world?’ ” Awiapo said. “I stand here today because of your sacrifices to Rice Bowl. I am a living testimony to that.”
According to CRS, students and families have three new ways to experience the Rice Bowl this year: a free CRS Rice Bowl app for their smart phones or other mobile communications devices, a cooking show series called “CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen” and a photo challenge called “How Do You Rice Bowl?”
With the app, users can receive daily reflections on their smart phones or tablets, view meatless recipes, track their personal Lenten goals and read stories about people’s lives who have been changed by the Rice Bowl program, a news release from CRS said.
The app is free and can be downloaded from crsricebowl.org/app.
Father Leo Patalinghug (who has visited St. Patrick Church in Eastwood) will host a series of five shows called “CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen.” He will prepare recipes from featured countries such as Kenya, Guatemala, the Philippines, Malawi and Haiti. The series is available on the CRS YouTube channel and on crsricebowl.org/recipe-archives.
The photo challenge titled “How Do You Rice Bowl” invites participants to show how CRS Rice Bowl is enhancing their Lenten experience. To participate, simply upload photos to Instagram or Twitter using the #VivaLent or through the CRS Rice Bowl Facebook page. One grand prize winner will receive a CRS Fair Trade Easter Basket.