By Vatican News staff writer
Providing aid for people who suffer from hunger, war, natural disasters, racial injustice, religious persecution and the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic - these are some of the areas of the intervention of Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
CRS supports Catholic organizations that carry out international relief and solidarity efforts. It collects an annual national contribution during Lent, through which Catholics can help the most vulnerable people in the United States and around the globe.
For many parishes in the United States, this year's collection, organized under the theme “Help Jesus in disguise”, will take place on 13 – 14 March.
Contributions to the CRS collection are distributed to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for international relief and development; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Office of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) for refugee resettlement; USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace for advocacy on government policy; the USCCB Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church for Pastoral Care for Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers and ministry to Asian and Pacific Islanders; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) for legal assistance to immigrants; and the Holy Father’s Relief Fund to assist Pope Francis’ outreach to suffering people worldwide.
Little contributions, big impact
“The Catholic Relief Services Collection pools small gifts to make a multi-million-dollar impact. Even a $10 donation can transform the life of someone who was already in dire need when the pandemic started,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, who acts as chairman of the USCCB Committee on National Collections.
“The need is urgent,” he insists. “Due to the ongoing impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on the ability of parishioners to gather together for Mass, gifts to this collection fell drastically in 2020 – just when they were needed most.”
Service to those in need
Founded in 1943 and a member of the Caritas Internationalis network, CRS has been involved in several important projects.
For instance, when CRS assists families after a natural disaster, it does so in ways that promote future prosperity. CRS also teaches business skills and connects small farmers and merchants to larger markets to trade. In addition, it provides counseling services to strengthen marriages stressed by trauma.
Thanks to the support from the CRS, the USCCB Migrant and Refugee Services (MRS) is currently providing safe, supportive shelter for unaccompanied minors. MRS tries to reunite the children with relatives in the United States and advocates for reform of refugee and immigration policies.
“This collection gives the poor and vulnerable immediate assistance and equips them with tools to thrive,” Archbishop Etienne said.
“We are so grateful to those who gave last year in a time of hardship. I ask you now to pray over what you can give and how you can be the face of Jesus to so many who suffer.”