Operation Rice Bowl: Around the World in the 40 Days of Lent

Catholic Relief Services
Friday, 20 February 2004

As millions of Catholics around the world prepare for the season of Lent, Operation Rice Bowl encourages the faithful to look beyond our own concerns and reach out to the poor and disenfranchised around the world.

Operation Rice Bowl, the official Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, is a program for the home, classroom and parish. The program is intended to deepen participants' spiritual journey through the six weeks of Lent, which begins on February 25 with Ash Wednesday. Every year, nearly 10 million families, educators and individuals use Operation Rice Bowl as a guide to observe Lent through its traditional practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, while learning about the challenges and gifts of the poor around the world.

Twenty-five percent of funds raised through the program—an estimated $2 million last year—support innovative projects that help alleviate poverty and hunger locally in Catholic dioceses in the United States. The remaining seventy-five percent of the funds raised—about $6 million in 2003—is distributed by CRS to support hunger-alleviation projects in the countries and territories in which CRS works.

"During these times of conflict and terror, we need even more to reach out and connect with one another, care for and have compassion for each other, especially the poorest and most vulnerable among us," said Joan Neal, CRS Deputy Executive Director for U.S. Operations. "Operation Rice Bowl offers Catholics in the United States a concrete way to live out their faith and share their blessings with communities throughout the developing world."

Operation Rice Bowl Traditions

Now in its 29th year, Operation Rice Bowl has become part of Lent in millions of households in the United States. While the program enhances Lent's spiritual focus for participants, it also substantively supports CRS development projects. Since it began in 1975, Operation Rice Bowl has raised more than $130 million for projects that affect communities' ability to access food both around the world and in local communities in the United States.

The components of this year's program are:

·CARDBOARD BOWL: A symbol of both the hunger and the hope that exist in the developing world, the bowl is used to collect the sacrificial donations made during Lent as a way for Catholics to actively respond to the needs of the poor.

·HOME CALENDAR GUIDE: The calendar suggests simple daily activities to help families and individuals connect with people and issues in our global community. It supplements the program's traditions of fasting, prayer, almsgiving and learning by providing personal stories from the people who have benefited from CRS' overseas programs, poverty statistics, simple recipes from different countries and Lenten reflections and prayers.

·E-MAIL REFLECTIONS: A new tradition this year, Operation Rice Bowl invites us to become members of an Online Lenten Community at www.CatholicRelief.org/ORB. Weekly emails offer a new way to focus our prayer, guide our learning, and challenge us to live our faith more deeply in relationship with those who are poor.

·COUNTRY HIGHLIGHTS: Every year, the program focuses on the lives of people in five countries, telling their stories and circumstances. This year, Operation Rice Bowl focuses on people who have benefited from hunger-alleviation projects in Pakistan, Burundi, Honduras, East Timor and the Gambia.

·SIMPLE MEAL RECIPES: Lent asks us to abstain from meat on Fridays, so Operation Rice Bowl offers an alternative to the usual fish fry—recipes for simple, meatless meals typical of the five highlighted countries. The preparation and sharing of the meals offers another tangible way to experience other cultures within our homes.

·EDUCATION and PARISH GUIDES: These are materials that share suggestions on how Lent may be brought into the classroom or within a parish or small-faith community. The guides provide opportunities for thoughtful prayer, deliberate fasting and learning in a way that connects participants with their neighbors around the world.

The materials are available free of charge and are available in English and Spanish. For more information on Operation Rice Bowl and to order materials for your parish or family, visit the CRS website at www.CatholicRelief.org.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian relief and development agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to people in 94 countries and territories on the basis of need, not race, creed or nationality.

For more information, or to contact Catholic Relief Services, see their website at: www.catholicrelief.org

Email Article To A Friend Link to us!
Home » International Aid & Relief » Catholic Relief Services » Article 05641