WASHINGTON (March 5, 2007)– The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Collection, which provides core funding for the work of five Catholic social ministry agencies in the United States, will take place March 17-18 in parishes across the country.
Last year, Catholics contributed more than $16 million to the appeal, which provides an opportunity for Catholics to support those in need during the Lenten season. The amount raised in 2006 represented an 11 percent increase over donations the previous year. The CRS Collection supports agencies that build the international social ministry of the Catholic Church through advocacy on behalf of impoverished people and through relief, recovery, and resettlement services to victims of earthquakes, floods, war, and religious and ethnic persecution.
The CRS collection asks Catholics to see "Jesus in disguise" in the faces of the poor, the hungry, and the disadvantaged, and to support ongoing efforts to respond to their needs through the Church's international social ministry. The following stories are examples of how contributions to the CRS Collection help transform thousands of lives:
- Sediqa Abdul-Shakur and her seven children fled Afghanistan after the Taliban killed Sediqa's brother, and her husband was targeted and disappeared. Living for years as refugees in Pakistan, Kyzyrgistan and Russia, they were eventually admitted to the U.S. and resettled in Louisville, KY. Catholic Charities, a partner organization of the Migration and Refugee Services department of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed and provided a range of support services to the family. Sediqa and her family are now adjusting well, surrounded by new friends and enjoying better lives.
- More than 850 million people around the world are chronically hungry, and 15 million children die of hunger every year. When 10-month-old Mariama was brought into a CRS-supported clinic in Niger, her mother, Deejay, was frightened and very quiet. Mariama's grandmother could barely muster her voice to say, "She doesn't cry anymore. She used to crawl." Thanks to contributions to CRS from the CRS Collection and other resources that allow CRS to have permanent facilities across the globe, Mariama was taken to a nearby therapeutic feeding center supported by CRS. While Mariama was examined and received nutritional supplements, Deejay received education and training on childcare and nutrition. After one week Mariama weighed just under 12 pounds. Nine months later, she is bright-eyed and healthy.
- Smuggled to the United States as an 8-year-old by her grandmother after her parents had abandoned her, Lia Fernandez spent many years living with various relatives across the country. Her new husband, Felix, a naturalized citizen originally from Bolivia, is on active duty in the U.S. Navy. The couple needed legal assistance to ensure Lia could stay in the U.S. permanently. Navy regulations and his frequent deployment prevent Felix from being the sole custodian of their three children if Lia is deported. Lia and Felix were referred to the New Orleans' office of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). Detention Attorney Hiroko Kusuda and her students from the Loyola University Law Clinic's Immigration Law Section met with the two last January to hear their story. Kusuda worked the facts of the case and directed Lia to petition the New Orleans Immigration Court for the removal proceedings to be canceled. After a trial, the immigration judge granted her request in late August. Lia is now a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
For more than 60 years, generous support from Catholics for this collection (formerly known as the American Bishops' Overseas Appeal) has provided funding for the work of Catholic social ministry agencies in the United States that are engaged in international emergency relief, refugee resettlement, immigration, peacemaking, pastoral care, and advocacy for a more just world. More details about the collection are available at www.usccb.org/crscollection.
The following are organizations that benefit from the Catholic Relief Services Collection:
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) provides a range of legal and support services to Catholic programs directly representing poor immigrants with a focus on the reunification of families and protection of those fleeing persecution or civil unrest. To learn more, please contact Rima Kamal at (202) 635-5821 or visit www.cliniclegal.org.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international humanitarian organization of the Catholic community in the United States. The Baltimore-based agency provides assistance to people in 99 countries and territories regardless of race, creed, or nationality. To learn more, please contact Brian Backe at (410) 951-7280 or visit www.crs.org.
Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), a department of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), serves and advocates for immigrants, refugees, migrants, trafficking victims, and people on the move through advocacy, resettlement services, and pastoral care. To learn more, please contact Jim Kuh at (202) 541-3220 or visit www.usccb.org/mrs.
Social Development and World Peace (SDWP), a department of the USCCB, advocates on behalf of the Church for public policies that protect the poor and vulnerable and advance peace and justice throughout the world. To learn more, please contact Joan Rosenhauer at (202) 541-3381 or visit www.usccb.org/sdwp.
The Holy Father's Relief Fund assists victims of natural disasters and other emergencies around the world.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Officials from these organizations that benefit from the CRS collection are available for interviews.