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placeholder DeSousa House: a new faith formation and activity center

New parish complex at Holy Spirit in Fremont includes theater

New event center at St. Theresa Parish in Oakland includes gym, stage, meeting rooms

Former Oakland cathedral site yields $5.25 million

Seton Award for contributions to Catholic schools

Catholic legislators must protect life, pope tells Speaker Pelosi

Black nun recalls her role in Selma protest

Traditionalist bishop says reconciliation with Vatican may be difficult, take time

Combating world hunger during Lent

Lenten regulations

Restorative justice – a new model for stemming violence

placeholder February 23, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Combating world hunger during Lent

With economic hard times taking their toll on purse strings and weekly budgets, people might be tempted to cut back on their charitable contributions.

But a feature story in Cabrini College’s student newspaper, The Loquitur, makes an eloquent case for ignoring those temptations, especially during Lent. “Without Operation Rice Bowl, I might have suffered hunger more, maybe even starved,” said Thomas Awiapo, senior program officer of Catholic Relief Services, about the agency’s sacrificial giving program.

Awiapo, a guest speaker at the Camden, New Jersey school, grew up in Ghana, an African country where hunger was a normal but painful feeling he endured every day.

Awiapo considers himself the “living reincarnation” of Operation Rice Bowl, which invites Catholics to prepare simple, meatless meals each week, putting the money they would have spent on a big meal into symbolic rice bowls. The money goes to support CRS’s mission to fight global hunger.

Awiapo was orphaned at age 10 and had to witness the death of his two younger brothers because there simply was not enough to eat.

“Hunger is like sickness. It is a disease,” Awiapo said. “I would lie down to go to bed but could not sleep. Instead of sleep I groaned and cried because my insides were not working.”

Awiapo told students how Operation Rice Bowl sent enough money to his village to build a school. The school provided a snack during the day to its students.

“God’s compassion to me was communicated through that little snack,” Awiapo said. “CRS personalized a desire for me to go to school and that is why I am here today.”

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, and continuing throughout Lent, Catholics throughout the Oakland Diocese can join Operation Rice Bowl to help raise funds to alleviate hunger in 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the U.S.

In Egypt, for example, Operation Rice Bowl funds microfinance programs for small businesses. In the Philippines, the initiative supports programs to help farmers increase their crop yields and in Honduras, the funds assist small farmers to improve their crop yields through agricultural training programs.

Last year, East Bay parishes raised $125,819 for Operation Rice Bowl.

One quarter of the collected money stays in the diocese to support local hunger projects. Last year’s grant recipients included three St. Vincent de Paul Society groups, St. David’s Pantry in Richmond, and Sister John Marie’s Pantry in Fremont.

Numerous resources to help families participate in Operation Rice Bowl can be found at: http://orb.crs.org/resources.

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