USCCB News Release
February 26, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Catholic Relief Services Collection Gives Hope in Troubled Times
WASHINGTON—The 2009 Catholic Relief Services Collection theme, "Give Hope to Jesus in Disguise," reminds us that our faith calls us to care for one another and that Christ is present both in those who suffer and in those who respond compassionately to their needs. The Collection is the weekend of March 21-22 in most dioceses of the United States.
The Catholic Relief Services Collection confronts international issues such as food security, HIV/AIDS, education and peace building. In addition to the vital efforts of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the collection supports refugee resettlement programs, legal aid to immigrants, advocacy and emergency and disaster relief.
In some countries, changing weather patterns and fluctuating oil prices are having a devastating effect on the local economy and agriculture. People literally have nothing to eat. At a local Catholic church in Oromia, Ethiopia (Africa), where entire crops have been destroyed, hundreds of children are receiving therapeutic milk and medical treatment through CRS.
In the United States, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) attorneys work to protect abused women and children under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Act allows immigrant victims of abuse, who often live in modern forms of slavery, to become legal residents without relying upon a petition from an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. With CLINIC's assistance, these women reclaim their dignity and the freedom to become productive members of society.
Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (MRS/USCCB) is another agency that receives funds from the Catholic Relief Services Collection.
"Migrants risk their well-being and lives to migrate in order to find work and support their families—it is a decision made out of necessity, not choice," said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Migration. "As a global institution present in both sending and receiving nations, the Catholic Church understands the economic and social forces that drive migrants to leave their families and home and seek work in another land," he said. Church-based organizations in both the United States and Mexico daily respond to the basic humanitarian needs of migrants and families separated across borders.
"The funds collected support vital programs that share in the Catholic mission of promoting the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person," said Archbishop John G. Vlazny, chairman of the Bishops' Committee on National Collections, in his letter of appeal to pastors and parishes around the country. "The Collection needs your help to further our mission," he added.
The Collection is an excellent opportunity for Catholics to support people in need during the Lenten season. In accordance with Catholic social teaching, the Collection supports programs that alleviate human suffering, develop communities and foster charity and justice.
The estimated proceeds from the 2008 Catholic Relief Services Collection, which are still being remitted by some dioceses, is over $16 million.
Agencies and organizations that receive funding from the Catholic Relief Services Collection include CRS, CLINIC, the Holy Father's Relief Fund, the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD), the USCCB Department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) and the USCCB Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.