Sheila Grove

Photo/Catholic Relief Services

ERIE — Small carboard “banks” are a common sight during Lent in Catholic churches in the Diocese of Erie and have been for many years. They are distributed by Operation Rice Bowl, a ministry of Catholic Relief Services, that provides faith communities throughout the United States the opportunity to put their faith in action through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The alms donated support the work of CRS in 45 countries, including the United States. Twenty-five percent of what is collected remains in the local area.

Food scarcity is a global problem that often goes unrecognized in affluent societies. Regardless of location, the lack of access to sufficient nutritious food is a global heath concern affecting life span, intellectual development and community stability. For Catholics, Lent is an appropriate time to pay attention to the call to share resources and increase awareness of our commitment to “give food to the hungry.”  

The office for Social Justice and Life works with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to bring the global work of the church to the Diocese of Erie.

Patrice Swick, director, reminds us that, “In Lent we are called to participate in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. CRS Operation Rice Bowl gives us an opportunity to do all three. It also allows us to feel connected to our sisters and brothers around the world."  

Photo/Catholic Relief Services

The CRS website https://www.crsricebowl.org/ includes information for parishes interested in offering this program. Posters, photos, social media suggestions, bulletin entries and more designed to encourage parishioners to integrate Operation Rice Bowl into their Lenten experience are available.

It is important to note that al
l groups interested in participating in the program order materials at least three weeks ahead of when they need them. Prior to this year, parishes have automatically received materials if they have participated in the past. This year, all parishes must order what they need directly through CRS. All materials and promotional tools are free. Lent begins on February 26th, so the time to order is fast approaching.