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By giving to CRS collection, Catholics ‘walk with Jesus on his mission of mercy,’ bishop says

Félicité Raminosoa shows Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, in gray hat, how to hand pollinate vanilla at her vanilla farm in Ifanadiana, Madagascar, Nov. 2, 2022. The U.S. bishops' annual CRS collection, scheduled to be taken in most U.S. dioceses during Masses March 9-10, 2024, funds CRS and five other initiatives to help those in need in the U.S. and abroad. (OSV New photo/Laura Elizabeth Pohl, CRS)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — By donating to the annual Catholic Relief Services collection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholics “have the opportunity to walk with Jesus on his mission of mercy,” said the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on National Collections.

The CRS collection will be held in most U.S. parishes at Masses the weekend of March 9 and 10. #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds for the collection.

“Imagine what it would be like to walk alongside Jesus as he healed the sick, multiplied food for the hungry, welcomed outcasts and called everyone to be peacemakers,” said Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico. “Each and every day, the social service ministries and humanitarian relief efforts of the Catholic Church do this at the local, national, and international levels.”

This annual collection combines six initiatives to help those in need in the United States and abroad:

— CRS carries out the work of the U.S. bishops to assist the poor and vulnerable worldwide who live in extreme poverty, war zones or who have suffered natural disasters.

— The U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace works to end conflicts and build just societies that respect human rights, religious freedom and integral human development.

— The Holy Father’s Relief Fund allows Pope Francis to send emergency aid to victims of natural disasters worldwide.

— In the United States, the U.S. bishops’ Department of Migration and Refugee Services, or MRS, promotes awareness of the plight of immigrants, migrants, refugees, trafficking victims, and people on the move, and assists with programmatic assistance and aid.

— The Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC, helps immigrants and refugees pursue the legal steps for work permits, family reunification and U.S. citizenship.

— The U.S. bishops’ Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church works to bring Catholics from various culturally diverse communities into fuller participation in the faith, life and evangelizing mission of the church. Its Pastoral Care for Migrants, Refugees and Travelers program ministers to the special pastoral and cultural needs of immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean Islands and Europe, as well as itinerant people, including seafarers, traveling show performers, truckers and tourists, while its Asian and Pacific Island Affairs program engages Catholics from Asian and Pacific Island communities in the United States.

“As chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on National Collections, I witness their work in action,” Bishop Wall said in a column provided to OSV News. “Your gifts make the love of Jesus real to those who suffer. Your generosity shows that the church which Jesus established continues to answer his call to aid the poor and the marginalized.”

Bishop Wall cited some initiatives the CRS collection supports.

In Africa, where many nations feel the harsh impact of climate change, CRS “is helping small farmers and homeowners to adapt to changing conditions that impact their livelihood,” Bishop Wall said.

“In Zambia, CRS-trained volunteers travel among many villages to teach hygiene and nutrition, and to educate the community on how to establish a vegetable garden that will feed their family in increasingly extreme weather conditions,” he said. “In Kenya, where crops are threatened by drought, CRS is renovating water systems and teaching new farming skills adapted to the current climate. In two counties alone, these improved water systems have reached more than 1.2 million people.”

A program supported and guided by MRS organized volunteers from parishes to welcome nearly 21,000 refugees who arrived in the U.S. in 2021-2022 from countries “as diverse as Ukraine and Venezuela,” he said. “These volunteers continue to accompany the refugees, helping them adjust to a strange land after profoundly traumatic experiences in their home countries.”

He described how CLINIC provides refugees and many other immigrants with legal assistance “to navigate the complex and rigorous U.S. immigration system.”

One example of this comes from Ohio, near Toledo, where a Franciscan sister working to reunite three generations of a Mexican-American family received assistance from CLINIC, Bishop Wall explained. “The teenage grandchildren had been stranded in Mexico while their grandfather became a U.S. citizen and their father a legal resident. The reunification process was arduous and involved arranging interviews with American authorities in Mexico City, hundreds of miles from the children’s home.”

“Thanks to God, but also thanks to the CLINIC lawyers,” he quoted the Francican sister as saying. “Their guidance was crucial to getting this happy ending.”

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