crs_logo Giving Hope to a World of Need

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the development arm of the U.S. Catholic Church in the world. It is founded and run by the U.S. Catholic Bishops, and the continuation of its work relies on the church in the U.S. – meaning the people of the Catholic Church – meaning you and me! When we speak of CRS, we are talking about our presence in the world.

CRS focuses on areas of development in 99 countries around the world; they also partner with other agencies (such as Caritas, dioceses, and religious congregations) who are already present in order to provide services in additional countries where CRS is not directly located, thus having a world-wide presence. They strive for emergency and disaster relief, empowerment of peoples, sustainable solutions to poverty and vulnerability, and global solidarity.

The Mission Office in conjunction with CRS

Our St. Cloud Mission Office serves as the diocesan office for CRS, with Fr. Bill Vos as Diocesan Director.  We act as a conduit for funds from you to CRS, and from CRS to our diocese (such as Rice Bowl locally allocated funds). We also serve as a bridge between CRS staff world-wide and the many resources, curriculum tools, speakers and stories that CRS produces, to the people of St. Cloud Diocese who are interested in learning, hearing and doing more.

We also carry out the mission of CRS to bring justice and sustainable grassroots development and empowerment to the people of the world who are most vulnerable. One way in which we do this is through the sale of Fair Trade chocolates, coffee, tea and other food items from a CRS initiative, as well as other Fair Trade items.

St. Cloud has been extremely involved in the work of CRS over the years, and vice-versa. Bishop John Kinney (1937-2019), former bishop of St. Cloud Diocese from 1995 to 2013, served on the Catholic Relief Services’ Board of Directors, and was very supportive of the organization and the work that they do. CRS has also supported us; it was in conjunction with CRS’s Global Solidarity department that we were able to begin our Global Solidarity Partnership with the Diocese of Homa Bay, Kenya in 1999. Here are a few highlights of what St. Cloud and CRS have done together:

hb_oyugis_mass2010CRS and Homa Bay. During the summer of 2006, Bishop Kinney accompanied 14 representatives from the Diocese of St. Cloud on a delegation visit to our sister Diocese of Homa Bay, Kenya. While there the group took the opportunity to visit several CRS programs, such as the metal silo project (see below), HIV/AIDS nutrition programs, agriculture programs and other health initiatives. CRS has been directly involved in facilitating this partnership and we look at their in-country personnel as our representatives “on the ground.”

Silo Project. One unique CRS project that was funded by the Diocese of St. Cloud a few years ago was the introduction of metal grain storage silos. The 2006 delegation visited a large girls’ secondary school where they have purchased about 20 of the larger silos to store the corn and beans that provide the everyday staple food for the school. The Sister in charge indicated that these silos have not only been a great economic boost but also enhanced the quality of the food. When the food was previously stored in gunny sacks the spoilage lead to bad meals, even leading to a student food strike! This St. Cloud sponsored project was the only one of its kind in all of Africa and it is now spreading into other countries.

CRS and HIV/AIDS. Another CRS success story involves the programs responding to HIV/AIDS patients. Because it has such a solid reputation, CRS is the lead organization in receiving US government HIV/AIDS funding. The program that Bishop Kinney and the 2006 delegation visited at one Catholic hospital was a very impressive indication of how these funds are so effectively used by CRS. At this hospital an entire wing has been set up to test, give counseling and provide treatment, including the antiretroviral drugs.

CRS has also helped our partner Diocese of Homa Bay and our Diocese set-up a joint project focused on helping orphans and vulnerable children who had been affected by HIV/AIDS, which we refer to as the Child Survival Project.  This project was completed in 2016.

Ongoing Partnership Support.  Catholic Relief Services is a forerunner in resources on Global Solidarity Partnerships and a model of solidarity that includes mutuality versus sponsorship.  CRS continues to provide support and resources for the Mission Office and parishes or groups in the diocese looking to do partnering and do it well.  Partnership_Manual (PDF)

bishop_in_sudanCRS – South Sudan. Bishop Kinney and Fr. Bill Vos (past Mission Office director and current CRS Diocesan Director) also had the opportunity to participate in an extended session of the annual Episcopal Conference meeting in Juba, Sudan in 2006. This was a historic event since it was the first time in over 20 years that the Bishops could actually hold their meeting within their country. And CRS made the visit possible.  In fact the Bishops meeting was held on the CRS compound. The role that CRS is playing in the post-war reconstruction efforts continues to be very important.

CRS funding

With programs in 99 countries, reaching about 75 million people, the good news is that 95% of the half billion dollar annual budget goes to programs, just 5 % for administration. A large portion of CRS’s huge budget comes from grant money, such as U.S.A.I.D. funds. Another percentage comes from appeals and donations.

An additional portion of these donations comes from the Catholic church – that means us! Each Lent we are all given two great opportunities to support the work of Catholic Relief Services. The CRS Collection (formerly known as the Bishops Oversees Appeal) is taken up the weekend of the 3rd Sunday of Lent each year. Often envelopes for this collection are found in members packets; if you don’t see one, be sure to ask your parish if they participate in the CRS collection and how you can contribute to it.

The second Lenten giving opportunity is Rice Bowl. This is a collection gathered in homes and schools throughout the entire 40 days of Lent; Rice Bowl also provides educational resources, information on various countries where CRS works, and strives to connect us with our brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling from hunger.  Rice Bowl funds are used solely for hunger-related work both locally and globally. It is especially important to note that 25% of the funds collected in our diocese through Rice Bowl which come into the Mission Office are kept locally within the diocese; this 25% is given as grants to parishes and organizations within our diocese who are addressing food and hunger-related problems locally. The remaining 75% of Rice Bowl funds go to CRS for broader global hunger needs. What better way to help our brothers and sisters BOTH near and far?!

crs_rice_bowl_logoLocal Rice Bowl Grants

25% of all funds given to Rice Bowl during Lent are kept right here in the St. Cloud Diocese to be used as grants to local parishes and organizations working on hunger-related relief for Central Minnesota!

If you work with or know of an organization working to alleviate hunger and poverty, share the following Local Rice Bowl Grant Application with them.  Local_Rice_Bowl_Grant_application2021.pdf, or Local_Rice_Bowl_Grant_application2021.doc  Note: While you are welcome to apply at any time, funds will not be distributed until after Rice Bowl collections come in and we know what total is available, so please be patient and know that you likely will not receive your grant until the Spring.

Thank you to all who support Rice Bowl with your financial gifts, and to all of those in our diocese and around the world working to help alleviate hunger and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in need!