CRS president: Rice Bowl highlighting migration this year

| February 22, 2018 | 2 Comments

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore, visited Archbishop Bernard Hebda Feb. 9 to discuss the archbishop’s new role on CRS’s board, which he joined last fall. Callahan spoke with The Catholic Spirit about the archbishop’s role and the work of CRS, including CRS Rice Bowl. CRS is the international humanitarian aid arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. What relationship does CRS have with Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis?

Sean Callahan

A. One [part of the relationship] has been through the CRS Rice Bowl. People pledge and give to Rice Bowl [during Lent], and the campaign has two different [goals]. One is awareness raising and understanding the issues and the needs of people, and then secondly, it also generates some resources to go both overseas and back to the diocese, because 25 percent stays with the diocese. We also work with the seminarians at [the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul] to help raise awareness of what the Church is doing. Another area is with the Share the Journey Campaign, [which] the Holy Father kicked off for migrants and refugees. CRS is one of the leaders in moving out along with the USCCB Office of Migration and Refugee Services and Catholic Charities USA.

Q. What’s new with CRS Rice Bowl this year?

A. The Rice Bowl is directly linked this year with the Share the Journey campaign, so we’re telling stories of migrants and people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. The other one is that we’re doing more and more online. There’s an app for the Rice Bowl, another way that we can contribute to the Church, and they can carry it right in their pocket and connect with it.

Q. Of the current initiatives you have going, what excites you the most right now?

A. One is Changing the Way We Care. It’s a program focusing on deinstitutionalization of children around the world [and] in the United States. We’re also strongly responding to malaria, and we’re starting to get to the point where there’s a possibility of eliminating it in some countries and eradicating malaria overall.

Q. What do you think Catholics really need to know about CRS?

A. I don’t think American Catholics realize that they, this past year with CRS, reached people [in] over 112 different countries, and they reached over 130 million people.

Q. How can Catholics better engage with CRS?

A. The [Share] the Journey campaign and the CRS Rice Bowl are key areas. Also, it’s very, very helpful that they assist in advocacy with the local and federal government.

Q. What has kept CRS going for 75 years?

A. You know, I think more than anything else, CRS is focused on being a relationship agency. We try not to do activities that the local Church can do, but we try to build their capacities, so they are sustainable into the future. We are actually in more countries now than we ever have been.

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