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CRS presentation at Rice Memorial High School

Jacques Kabore, partnership and capacity building coordinator for Catholic Relief Services Burkina Faso, gave students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington an idea of what life is like in his homeland:
 
+ Seventy-six percent of households have no food stock on hand.
+ Most people have limited access to safe drinking water, health facilities, schools and sanitation.
+ Only half of households have toilets.
+ Inconsistent and insufficient rains cause crop failures.
+ Women’s literacy is 11 percent in rural areas; 23 percent nationally.
+ 80 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture and livestock production.
 
“You are in a privileged way, a privileged life,” he told the Catholic high school students Jan. 26. “The world is not everywhere like this” in Vermont.
 
Rice is one of 11 CRS global high schools, part of a program that provides opportunities for Catholic secondary schools to join with CRS to educate about Catholic social teaching and advocate for solidarity with the global poor.
 
Kabore shared with the students what life is like in Burkina Faso, one of the four poorest countries in the world. He said people there work hard, yet 46 percent live on less than $1 a day; many carry water for household use from rivers.
 
CRS is working to help residents of Burkina Faso, and since 1960, 500,000 people have been served in areas like agriculture; water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition and governance. “Your support [of CRS] is doing something fabulous in the world,” Kabore said, adding that CRS also helps with emergency responses like helping 58,000 refugees from Mali get food and water.
 
“Jesus tells us to feed and care for our brothers and sisters,” he said, and CRS is a way for “the hand of God from here [to reach] to overseas.”
 
After the school-wide assembly, students were given the well known cardboard CRS Rice Bowls and asked to make sacrifices of food and specialty drinks during Lent and to contribute the savings to the CRS signature project to help people in need throughout the world.

Kabore spoke at four locations in Vermont as part of the CRS Lenten Speakers Tour, including parishes in Manchester and Bennington and schools in Bennington and South Burlington.
 
Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. It is motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity and justice and embody Catholic social and moral teaching while promoting human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty and nurturing peaceful and just societies; and by serving Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters throughout the world.
 
For more information, visit crs.org.
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Schools

People of prayer, people of action

When Vermont Catholics are asked to assist persons who have been affected by natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding, they respond with generosity.
 
Recent collections for victims of Hurricane Harvey raised nearly $212,000; for those reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Vermont Catholics donated more than 95,000.
 
Sandy relief efforts here in 2012 raised just under $15,000; Irene fundraising in 2011 was nearly $154,000, which stayed in hard-hit Vermont.
 
Nearly $400,000 was collected for victims of Hurricane Katrina over the course of one year from September 2005 to October 2006.
 
Earlier this year Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne requested all 73 parishes throughout the statewide Diocese take up a collection and respond generously to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Collections continued for natural disasters that followed. 
 
"Along with all of the other generous people of the state of Vermont, the Catholic community is ready to stand in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters whose lives have been so devastated by these natural disasters. We are not just people of prayer. We are people of action,” he said.
 
All donations for humanitarian and recovery efforts were distributed by Catholic Charities USA to areas in greatest need.
 
About $7,500 was collected for this year’s relief efforts at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Williston and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Richmond, where Father Daniel Jordan is pastor. “People were very generous, especially with the beginning of school” and related expenses at about the same time the collections were taken, he said. “It tends to be a fairly hard time for a lot of people.”
 
He was gratified that people gave as much as they could to help their neighbors in hard-hit areas. “This is neighbor helping neighbor beyond the borders of a parish or state. ... It is helping our brothers and sisters in Christ, all made in the image and likeness of God,” he said. “Our faith calls us to respond to all those in need. Even though we are a small diocese, the Vermont Catholic community is very generous.”
 
--Cori Fugere Urban
 
A Shining Beacon of Hope
A Prayer After a Hurricane
 
Mary, Star of the Sea,
We ask your intercession for our brothers and sisters,
who have weathered too many storms and
borne too many hardships.
Be near them in their time of trouble.
Comfort all whose homes have been washed away.
Console all who have lost loved ones.
Fill those who wait in fear and uncertainty with your peace.
We pray for a spirit of perseverance,
Especially for those who have emerged from the storm as
caretakers and victims;
Be a shining beacon of hope as they begin the journey of
recovery.
And stand us firm beside them in solidarity.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son.
Amen.
--From Catholic Relief Services


— Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Dr. Carolyn Woo to speak in Vermont

A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont in September to speak at a Year of Creation conference, the signature event of the Diocese of Burlington’s yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of the U.S. Church's international humanitarian agency based in Baltimore, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
In a telephone interview from her home in South Bend, Ind., Woo gave examples of how CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming.” These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
 
She spoke of people who rely on fishing as a livelihood put out of work when a lake dries up and devastation to farmers when crops wither and die. Rises in sea level or storms decimate homes and livelihoods.
 
“At CRS, we have been working for years with the consequences of climate change and also the erratic behavior of weather,” Woo said. “We know that reality through experience.”
 
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in 101 countries on five continents.
 
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although that mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
 
Woo – who grew up in Hong Kong -- encourages dialogue with persons who consider global warming a hoax, and she encourages them to encounter situations that exemplify the severity of the situation caused by global warming. “We have to walk in their shoes to see what drives their thinking,” she said. “They have probably experienced certain types of framing that suggests all the evidence is false.”
 
Various measures to limit the harmful effects of global warming on the poor have had some success, such as preparing coastal communities for storms to reduce the risk of loss of life and property. These include building homes in safer locations, building sturdier homes, preplanning community responses and mobilizing local and government groups.
 
She offered three key messages about the environment:
 
+ The environment is God’s gift to humankind and is meant for everyone.
 
+ There must be responsibility and action on behalf of this gift so that it is cherished and nourished for everyone.
 
+ There must be dialogue with people who don’t believe climate change is happening, that it damages the Earth and human-made actions affect it.
 
For details on the conference at which she will speak, check vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation. The conference will be open to people of all faiths.


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Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
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