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In this Edition you will find information on Catholic Relief Services, including CRS Rice Bowl and the CRS Collection as well as information on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Local Grant Process
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SPECIAL LENT EDITION 

A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.
- Pope Francis



What Is Catholic Relief Services (CRS)?


 
Mission statement

Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity and justice, and embody Catholic social and moral teaching as we act to:
  • PROMOTE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies; and,
  • SERVE CATHOLICS IN THE UNITED STATES as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.
As part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church, we work with local, national and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organizations, to assist people on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality.

This YouTube video shows Catholic Relief Services in action, further exemplifying their mission statement. 

  CLICK HERE
Catholic Relief Services Collection will take place in parishes on the weekend of March 5-6.

The Catholic Relief Services Collection supports Catholic Church organizations that carry out international relief and solidarity efforts. Programs include relief and resettlement for victims of persecution, war, and natural disasters; development projects to improve living conditions for the poor; legal and support services for poor immigrants; peace and reconciliation work for people suffering from violence; and advocacy on behalf of the powerless. This collection is the primary source of funding for five agencies.

What is CRS Rice Bowl?


Every Lent, Catholics in the United States do something amazing. Their prayers, fasting and almsgiving become lifesaving aid for millions of individuals living in conditions of poverty around the world. The hungry are fed; the thirsty are given drink; the homeless find shelter. And this has been going on for more than 40 years. That’s the impact of CRS Rice Bowl. That’s how what you give up for Lent can change lives. A simple cardboard box—a CRS Rice Bowl—inspires prayers, fasting and almsgiving within Catholic families across the U.S., and delivers hope to millions around the world.
 

Driven by our faith, we are committed to help those in need no matter where they may live. 

75 percent of your gift supports CRS’ programs around the world. Some examples include:

  •  Agriculture projects help farmers improve harvests

  •  Water and sanitation projects bring clean water to communities

  •  Microfinance projects support small businesses

  •  Mother and child health projects offer health and nutrition services

  •  Education projects provide resources and training

25 percent of your donations go to hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in your own community.


Contact the Diocese of Grand Rapids CRS Coordinator, Maggie Walsh, at mwalsh@ccwestmi.org, to discover how funds are used locally.

 

Why Lent?  Why are there ashes on my forehead?  What is Lent all about, and why is the CRS Rice Bowl associated with it?


The video below, courtesy of Busted Halo, can give you insight on why Catholics celebrate the season of Lent, the purpose of Ash Wednesday, and why it is important to give during the Lenten season.
 
LOOKING FOR MEATLESS MEALS TO PREPARE THIS LENT?

Fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent helps us “acquire a mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.”(CCC 2043). Fasting is meant to free us. It helps us feel our physical hunger, and in turn, our spiritual hunger for the infinite love found only in God.
Gather your community, your friends or your family for a simple meal, an opportunity to eat meatless on Friday while living in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.
When you’ve cleaned your plate, remember to put the money you saved by not buying meat – an average of $3 per person per meal into your CRS Rice Bowl to feed our brothers and sisters in need around the world.

CRS Rice Bowl Recipes can be found on this link http://www.crsricebowl.org/recipe 


Local Spotlight of a CRS Rice Bowl Grant Recipient:

Bread of Life Food Pantry, Hart, MI
Nathan Schall, CCHD Intern

In West Michigan, rural poverty is nearly as prevalent as urban poverty.  The Bread of Life Food Pantry, located in Hart, Michigan, helps mitigate the food shortages for migrant workers, elderly people, and struggling families in Oceana County: the second poorest county in the state.  Known by many in the surrounding counties as “one of the most versatile food pantries in the area,” Bread of Life Food Pantry provides packaged and fresh foods as well as baked goods and toiletries to the people of Oceana County.  Jane Thocher, coordinator of the food pantry, explains, “We started out about 20 years ago as a place where migrant workers could get food before the asparagus (an early spring crop) were harvested.”  She went on to explain that the operations expanded into serving those in poverty: the elderly, the homeless, and many other populations.  She estimates that about 14,000 individuals were served by the pantry with the help from about 300 different volunteers and is currently under the patronage of four area Catholic parishes.  “With the (CRS) Rice Bowl Grant, we were able to provide fresh produce and fruit from about January to May.”  She explains that May is about the time area farmers begin to donate crops to the pantry, so patrons of the pantry were able to have nutritious options all year round.  Future goals of the Bread of Life Food Pantry include becoming an even more ecumenical organization, labeling healthy choice options, and marketing to more organizations in Oceana County.  Thocher knows that the good works of the organization is dependent on the altruism of the people of Hart and Bread of Life’s dedicated volunteers.  If you would like to know more about the Bread of Life Food Pantry or would like to take action and volunteer, contact Jane at 616-540-8910.

 
 
Local Catholic Campaign for Human Development Grant
Application is now Available

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, working to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ "... to bring good news to the poor ...  release to captives ...  sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free." (Luke 4:18)

The belief that those who are directly affected by unjust systems and structures have the best insight into knowing how to change them is central to CCHD. CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities. CCHD offers a hand up, not a hand out.
Many local organizations striving for social justice have benefitted from these grants with funding opportunities up to $9,000.  If your organization firmly believes in the two feet of love in action: charity and justice, and are rooted in the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, consider applying for a local grant.
 
APPLICATION LINK 
 
CCWM Seeking Catholic Campaign for Human Development Intern

Greetings!  My name is Nate Schall, and I am the current Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) intern.  I have such praiseworthy testimony for this position.  For about eleven hours a week, I work on the fourth floor of Cathedral Square alongside Maggie Walsh: the social justice coordinator for Catholic Charities West Michigan.  My daily tasks include researching and writing articles for the Faith in Action newsletter, connecting with local organizations rooted in social justice applying for CCHD grants, assist with social justice gatherings and local fundraisers, participate in meetings with organizations like the Kent County Human Trafficking Task Force, and discover works of social justice both in West Michigan and across the United States.  One of my favorite memories was internship training last May: a period of a few days when I flew to Washington, DC to meet other CCHD interns and gain insight on how CCHD works on the national scale.  I am having a wonderful time!

I am reluctant to leave in May, but new opportunities await for me.  Fortunately, this means that another person will be able to have these same opportunities for the 2016-2017 school year!    This internship will help you grow closer to the local community, increase solidarity among the good works of great people in West Michigan, help give knowledge of the grant writing process, and can give you many networking opportunities for non-profit administration.  

If you are interested in the CCHD Internship Program, the two links below will take you to the national website for CCHD, and the other link will take you to the application. 

Information on CCHD Interns http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/get-involved/internships/cchd-internships.cfm
Internship Application http://ccwestmi.org/faith-in-action/cchd