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placeholder February 20, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA

Giles Miller, Catholic Relief Services' regional development director for Northern California, speaks at the Oakland Diocese's CRS Rice Bowl breakfast in December.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE

Rice Bowl is Lenten opportunity
to learn more about giving

"Encounter Lent" is the theme for Rice Bowl 2017, Catholic Relief Services' Lenten formation program of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

This year, CRS programs in India, Zambia, El Salvador, Mexico, Ethiopia and Honolulu are highlighted in the CRS Lenten calendar, daily reflections and weekly recipes for meatless meals.

"Encounter Lent" is the theme for this year's CRS Rice Bowl. Small paper rice bowls are available at parishes and schools throughout the diocese.
COURTESY PHOTO

Parishioners in the Oakland diocese are likely to find the rice bowls and materials in their churches at the beginning of Lent. Materials are also available online at www.crsricebowl.org.

Donations are usually collected in parishes on Holy Thursday, with 25 percent remaining in the diocese to be distributed to organizations that feed the hungry.

What happens to the remaining 75 percent was the topic of a talk by Giles Miller, Catholic Relief Services' regional development director for Northern California, at the Oakland Diocese's CRS Rice Bowl breakfast in December.

Catholic Relief Services, founded in 1943, is the official international humanitarian agency of the US Catholic Church. "The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is a part of all our work," Miller said. That work, he said, is serving 107 million people in more countries.

 
Stories, reflections, recipes and donation information at www.crsricebowl.org
 
"Wherever we serve," he said, "we are partners with Caritas Internationalis in doing this work."

There are an additional 1,500 local charities in the places CRS serves, as well as international charities, with which CRS partners.

"Wherever we serve, we're assisting the poorest of the poor and the vulnerable on the basis of their need, not their creed, not their race or nationality," Miller said.

Most of the people served by CRS are not Catholic, he said. "We're living out our values when we help them."

CRS' work includes human development and emergency response.

"All of our work is based on Catholic social teaching," he said. The newest plank to the CRS platform, he said, is subsidiarity.

"When we're asked to go into a region, or country, or problem, we don't go in and impose our will," he said. "We ask if there's somebody there who is doing it, can do it and do it well.

"We'll only step in where we're needed, and where we are asked to be," he said.

CRS, he noted, is second only to the UN in feeding poor people around the world.

Of every dollar received by CRS, Miller said, 93 cents is spent on programs.

"The reason we're able to do that is because much of our funding does come from government programs and government grants."

The US Aid to International Development is a big funder of CRS, he said.

"Why? Because they know we can do the job. They accept we are the experts on this. We have boots on the ground to make things happen."

CRS aims to aid integral human development, by working with individuals, families, communities and nations to develop successful livelihood strategies. The best part of CRS, he said, is "that we don't just rush in in an emergency then go away."

Miller's audience included representatives of 40 groups that received grants totaling $31,000, which represented 25 percent of last year's Rice Bowl collection. Grants, ranging from $500 to $1,000, went to 24 conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, most based in parishes, and 16 churches, schools and organizations that feed the hungry in the East Bay.

 
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