On September 19, a total of $84,800 in CRS Rice Bowl Grants was awarded to 40 programs within our diocese, each with a focus on alleviating hunger. The grants were distributed at a special awards celebration held at Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, with Monsignor Francis Cilia and Deacon Rubén Solorio, Director of Social Ministries, distributing the grants.
The funding for these grants comes from 25% of the total amount collected during Lent from those parishes and schools in our diocese participating in CRS Rice Bowl. The other 75% goes to Catholic Relief Services programs around the world.
The large amount of grants that were distributed this year was the result of several years of giving. In the past, only a few parishes and schools applied for the grants but this year, through Deacon Rubén Solorio’s relationship with many parishes in the Diocese, there were 40 applications for these local grants. Deacon Rubén worked with a number of parishes in developing new outreach programs to address local hunger needs.
While the local grant funds are designated for hunger and poverty alleviation efforts, the global reach of the CRS Rice Bowl programs encompass areas such as agriculture, water projects, education, health care, nutrition, and small business microfinance projects.
Patrick Shandolay, the CRS Fair Trade Coordinator for the Diocese of Oakland, said to those at the awards celebration that CRS is sometimes the “best kept secret” in the Church.
Anne Maloney, who is a member of the diocesan Global Solidarity Team, the Rice Bowl Committee, and a CRS Fair Trade Ambassador, told those present that she hopes that will no longer be the case.
During the awards celebration, video clips of the work of CRS around the world were shown.
Anne encouraged the Grant recipients saying, “Just as we want our American Catholic community to be aware of the work that CRS is doing overseas, we want our local San José community to be aware of the amazing work that you’re doing here in the Diocese.”
The primary goal of CRS Rice Bowl is to build a sense of global solidarity, which it does through sharing stories of hope from our brothers and sisters in the developing world. Anne invited those present to share their stories and the hope these programs are bringing to our local communities through their good work and the support of CRS Rice Bowl.
Since the amount of funds that the Diocese has available for local needs are dependent upon the participation of parishes and schools in Rice Bowl during Lent, Anne pointed out that, in order to continue to fund these programs and more, we need to increase our Rice Bowl participation throughout the diocese. An on-line order form for free Rice Bowl materials for Lent 2016 is available at http://www.dsj.org/crs-rice-bowl.
Deacon Rubén also announced that the Office of Social Ministries has just received a grant from CRS so that Crystal Catalan will be available to reach out to schools and parishes, to hear their stories and to let them know more about CRS.