| Ready, set, Rice Bowl
As you assemble the familiar cardboard Rice Bowl as Lent begins, don't miss out on what's already inside.
The pre-cut slot at the top, of course, invites your daily or weekly contributions of coins or bills. But glued to the bottom of the box is a calendar of reflections prepared by Catholic Relief Services.
"It's always good to be looking at the Lenten guide," said Marc McKimmey, diocesan coordinator for CRS Rice Bowl. "There's great information, not only about the countries, but the daily reflections people can do to make their Lenten experience more meaningful."
On the flip side of the reflections are reports from various parts of the world — Kenya, Guatemala, the Philippines, Malawi and Haiti — describing the good work Catholic Relief Services does with 75 percent of the contributions made during Lent. Also included are recipes for simple, meatless meals.
The report for Holy Week is datelined Santa Fe, New Mexico, and headlined "Feeding the Hungry Here at Home," a reminder that 25 percent of funds raised during the annual Rice Bowl collection remain in the local diocese.
In the Diocese of Oakland, about 75 percent of the parishes and schools participate in CRS Rice Bowl. Last December, 28 groups that feed the hungry in Alameda and Contra Costa counties shared almost $20,000 in grant money from the CRS Rice Bowl. Grants checks ranged from $500 to $900. Thirteen parish-based St. Vincent de Paul conferences were among the recipients.
Also honored in December was St. Peter Martyr of Verona Parish in Pittsburg, which received the parish award. Encouraged by their then-pastor, Father Sergio Mora, the parish — sparked by families in the faith formation program — raised $6,700 for CRS Rice Bowl.
If a cardboard Rice Bowl on the kitchen table is a little old school, Catholic Relief Services offers online opportunities to participate.
There's even an app for smartphones this year, McKimmey said. It is available at www.crsricebowl.org. The user can receive the Rice Bowl reflections, as well as make donations. That information is also available at the website.
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