The 2017 Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Program began on Ash Wednesday, March 1. This year’s CRS Rice Bowl theme, “Encounter Lent,” echoes the call of Pope Francis that our faith seeks “a culture of encounter.” CRS hopes that, through participation in Rice Bowl, a spirit of global solidarity is cultivated.
One way that the CRS Rice Bowl Program assists in building global solidarity is by offering Lenten opportunities for participants to learn about a variety of countries overseas, to explore the principles of Catholic social teaching, and to enter into the practice of making sacrificial offerings to help those who face poverty, hunger and illness around the world.
“Rice Bowl gives the faithful, especially the youth in our parishes and schools, the opportunity to see our Lenten journey as a time to walk on a global path with our brothers and sisters in need around the world,” said St. Charles Borromeo Church’s Deacon Edward Konarski, who chairs the CRS advisory committee that assists in promoting CRS Rice Bowl and Catholic Charities CRS Rice Bowl Mini-Grant Program.
The 2016 Lenten CRS Rice Bowl Collection involved 57 parishes and diocesan schools and raised $62,218. Twenty-five percent of Rice Bowl funds remain in the diocese to support the charitable efforts of diocesan Catholic entities through the distribution of Catholic Charities CRS Rice Bowl Mini-Grants. In 2016, a total of 17 $1,000 CRS Rice Bowl Mini-Grants were awarded to Catholic entities from throughout the diocese located in the following communities: Albemarle, Andrews, Arden, Asheville, Charlotte, Clemmons, Gastonia, Greensboro, Hayesville, Jefferson, Mocksville, Morganton, Murphy, Spruce Pine and Sylva. The grants, targeting local poverty and hunger relief efforts, provided funds for charitable efforts such as: buying supplies for newborns, stocking food pantries, filling weekend backpack meals for school children, thrift store outreach and holiday meal packages.
This year’s CRS Rice Bowl Mini-Grant applications will be available starting Tuesday, Aug. 1, at www.ccdoc.org/cchdcrs and will be due Monday, Oct. 16.
“These grants are a helpful support for parishes and Catholic school projects that are reaching the vulnerable in our local communities,” Deacon Konarski said. “We see that our Lenten sacrifice made through CRS Rice Bowl touches the lives of our neighbors, as well as countless others overseas whom we will likely never meet, but can encounter in our prayers and our charitable giving.”
— Joseph Purello is the director of Social Concerns and Advocacy for Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte and also serves as the diocesan director for Catholic Relief Services.