The Catholic Relief Services Collection: Helping Jesus in Disguise

crs-facebook-2-403x504Each time we encounter a suffering person, we encounter Jesus in disguise. The Catholic Relief Services Collection (CRSC) funds six Catholic agencies that serve the disguised Jesus in our suffering brothers and sisters around the world. His disguise might be that of those suffering from natural disaster, those displaced by violence or war, or those migrants searching for a better life.

In the developing world, it is often hard for families to support themselves and their children. Sophie, a widow working in a village in Burkina Faso, was struggling to feed her family and pay for schooling for her children. Thanks to the help of Catholic Relief Services, one of the CRSC supported organizations, her village was able to set up a Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC). Through the SILC, members contribute what they can afford, allowing them to pool their resources and save collectively. Members can then borrow money to meet pressing needs or develop business opportunities. Through the SILC, Sophie was able to take out a $200 loan to cover startup costs for her own canteen, a sum that would be nearly impossible for her to save. Her canteen has been very successful and began to pay off in only six months. Her community has benefited too, as she has been able to hire three assistants to work with her. Without the SILC and the work of CRS, it would have been nearly impossible for her, and others like her, to create a sustainable life for her and her family.

2016-crs-montage-text-270x200Even in the developed world, it is difficult for immigrants to navigate the American justice system and to know their rights. Another organization that receives funds from the Catholic Relief Services Collection is CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. The BIA Pro Bono Project that CLINIC manages uses funds from the CRSC to provide support and legal representation to immigrants facing the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Pedro entered the United States to provide a better life for his family and to flee violence and persecution. He entered the United States without inspection, but nearly 20 years later, Pedro was taken to an immigration detention facility away from his wife and three children while the BIA decided whether he could stay in the country. Thanks to the BIA Pro Bono Project, law students discovered that he had never been considered for Temporary Protected Status, and local legal counsel represented him. This counsel helped determine that he was in fact eligible for this legal status. After a year in a detention facility, separated from his family, Pedro was able to return home.

This Lent, remember our suffering brothers and sisters and Jesus in Disguise.

Funds acquired from the CRS Collection are also distributed to these organizations: USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services for refugee resettlement USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development for advocacy The Holy Father’s Relief Fund for emergency relief USCCB’s Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church for evangelization and ministry

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (mt 25:40)

Bevin Kennedy, Office of National Collections at the USCCB

Bevin Kennedy, Office of National Collections at the USCCB

Bevin Kennedy is the Assistant Director for Promotions in the Office of National Collections at the USCCB.

CCHD Collection: Your Generosity Working on the Margins

Bevin Kennedy, Office of National Collections at the USCCB

Bevin Kennedy, Office of National Collections at the USCCB

This weekend is the national date for the Collection for Catholic Campaign for Human Development. In my time here, working in the Office of National Collections, I have been able to not only witness the continuous generosity of American Catholics but also I get to witness all of the collaborative work that makes these projects possible.

CCHD funded groups across the country are doing incredible work to break the cycle of poverty and make change happen. There are those in Minnesota providing microloans to help refugees and immigrants achieve success in their small businesses, and those in Louisiana advocating for children unfairly caught in the justice system.

The success of these projects relies heavily on our CCHD diocesan directors, who in solidarity with those on the margins, tirelessly help people help themselves and often go unnoticed. These individuals give so much of their time to “bring good news to the poor…release to captives…sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free.”

But most importantly, all of this work would be impossible without the incredible generosity of our parishioners in the pew who give to this collection. The generosity of the American people to give what they have to support those in poverty brings new meaning to One Church, One Mission.

CCHD-montage-image-16It is in this generosity that I see the words of Pope Francis, “we look forward to the experience of opening our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society: fringes which modern society itself creates.”

When I see how people share their gifts—from their wealth or their widow’s mite—, share their prayers, and share their time, I see open hearts reaching to the “fringes of society” to counter the exclusion that is the norm in our modern society.

If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to read the CCHD newsletter, the bulletin insert, and visit Stories of Hope at, and see just some of the fruits of this collection.

I also encourage you to prayerfully consider supporting this year’s collection. Even though so much has been done to address poverty in this country, there is still a lot to be accomplished.

Together let us remember, “Day after day, touched by [God’s] compassion, we also can become compassionate towards others.” (Pope Francis).

Bevin Kennedy is the Assistant Director for Promotions in the Office of National Collections at the USCCB.