By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – The regional director of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Cullen Larsen, along with the relationship manager for this region, Martha Gaynoe, visited the headquarters for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Jackson on Monday, March 10, to talk about what’s happening with CRS, what’s new with the CRS Rice Bowl program and to share resources on global solidarity with parish and diocesan leaders. Bishop Joseph Kopacz joined parish leaders from Jackson St. Therese and the Catholic Community of West Jackson as well as several diocesan representatives for the meeting.
Although CRS is best known for disaster intervention and the Rice Bowl program, the organization also engages in peacemaking and sustainable community projects. Larsen explained that the group, which serves in 91 countries, wanted to go beyond responding to violence and incorporate Catholic social teaching into its service. Larsen explained that the organization wants to support the idea of integral human development. “When we look at a community we are looking for ways to affect it holistically. We don’t just want to put a band aid on a wound, we want to find the causes,” he said. This led to peacemaking, sustainable agriculture and health programs.
The Rice Bowl program has added several features this year to appeal to a younger audience. There is an app that can be downloaded to both Apple and Android devices with daily reflections and encouragement. There is also a photo challenge encouraging groups or individuals to post their photos of how they are using Rice Bowl on Twitter, Instagram or the CRS facebook page tagged #VivaLent.
While CRS Rice Bowl does provide money aid around the world, it is important to note that a quarter of that money stays in the Diocese of Jackson to help the poor close to home. It’s not too late to join the effort. The CRS collection will be taken up March 29-30 in the Diocese of Jackson. Last year, this diocese collected $51,818.49. Those interested can also still get a rice bowl for Lent from www.crsricebowl.org.