Catholic Relief Services was founded during World War II to serve migrants and refugees. More than 75 years later, CRS carries out the commitment of the bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas.

The mission statement reads, “We are 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 as we act to promote human development … [and] serve Catholics in the United States.”

Catholic Relief Services responds to major emergencies, such as recent wildfires in Chile, ongoing conflicts in the Holy Land, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and works on long-term projects of promoting agriculture, education, and healthcare. To fulfill its mission and respond to these challenges, CRS works with local, national, and international Catholic organizations, helping those based on need, not creed.

One of the largest fundraisers for CRS is the Lenten Rice Bowl, which began on Ash Wednesday and runs through Easter. Alms gathered through CRS Rice Bowl primarily go toward hunger and poverty alleviation programs in countries where CRS operates, however 25 percent of those funds stay in the diocese where they are collected. CRS Rice Bowl grants are given to local organizations that prioritize ending hunger and poverty in their communities.

“Love can be expressed in so many ways,” said Beth Martin, CRS director of formation and mobilization, “even through a small act such as giving up your daily cup of coffee and instead, donating that money to CRS Rice Bowl. That small sacrifice – that small act of love – can change the lives of so many people.”

Catholic Relief Services embodies the mission of the Year of Peace, assisting those in crisis and caring for neighbors both near and far. CRS strives to fulfill the Gospel’s mission by defending and advancing human life throughout the world by directly meeting basic needs and advocating for solutions to injustice.

CRS works in 116 countries, serving 193 million people and partnering with more than 1,700 faith-based and secular organizations to deliver positive, sustainable change at scale.

To learn more or to see how you can get involved visit:

—Holly Thayer and CRS

—Originally published in the Spring 2024 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.