CRS Rice Bowl recipe #1: Colombia — with video

Categories: Around the Diocese,lent,Nation/World

CRS Rice Bowl changes lives around the world

Catholic Relief Services

This Lent millions of Catholics around the United States will place a colorful cardboard box and calendar in their homes to begin a spiritual journey that changes lives around the world.

They will be participating in the 41st year of CRS Rice Bowl, a program with an effect that goes far beyond the funds it raises for those who need support and services in communities throughout the United States and overseas.


Empanadas de queso con frijoles Recipe Card (PDF)

For Catholic families, the “CRS Rice Bowl Effect” begins conversations about Lent and their faith, about the role of charity, and about the many different people who make up our world family. For Catholic parishes and schools, it unites communities for Lenten faith reflection around the spirit of serving those in need and the good work of the church around the globe. And for those who benefit from its charity, the “Rice Bowl Effect” is a key to a better life. “There is something truly wonderful about the impact CRS Rice Bowl has on our Catholic community and on the people we serve,” said Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. Operations for Catholic Relief Services. “What we are calling the ‘Rice Bowl Effect’ unites us as a faith community in the service of helping others. It links us to our brothers and sisters around the world through stories, recipes, reflections, and prayer. And best of all, this effect can be an experience that starts with the very young and extends throughout our lifetimes.”

Rosenhauer noted that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, CRS Rice Bowl opens a special door for Catholics to learn more about — and participate in — the works of mercy done in their name by CRS, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.

“For CRS, the preferential love for those oppressed by poverty is at the heart of our work,” said Rosenhauer. “This year, we have helped improve the lives of millions of people in over 100 countries, work that began when we helped refugees during World War II. CRS Rice Bowl plays a significant role in making sure we are ready and able to do such work, the good news, the merciful story of our church.”

Day-by-day reflections and activities for Lent



For each week of Lent, The Visitor will highlight CRS’ work with a story and a simple, meatless recipe from a country the agency serves. Place the money saved by not buying meat into your CRS Rice Bowl to feed our brothers and sisters in need around the world. At the end of Lent, individuals can give their money to their parish or send donations directly to the St. Cloud Mission Office, 11 8th Ave., S., St. Cloud, MN 56301.

February 14-20


mariaFighting between armed forces made life in Cumbitara, Colombia, dangerous for Maria and her family — so dangerous that eight years ago they were forced to relocate. They left their home one morning with nothing but a suitcase of clothes.

It wasn’t easy making a new life in Nariño, a region of Colombia known for its coffee. People made fun of Maria and her family because they were outsiders. It was also hard to find work, and Maria’s father left home for months at a time to do dangerous work in a mine.

All that changed when the family bought a little piece of land through the CRS Borderlands project. On it, they grow gourmet coffee that is sold in the United States. And Maria, now 18 years old, is passionate about coffee too. She was chosen for a special program and is earning a degree in farming.

The program, run by the local university and CRS’ Borderlands project staff, trains young people to become leaders in the coffee industry. During her first semester, she learned from staff as they traveled to farms, teaching growers new ways to plant and harvest.

Coffee, which Maria knew nothing about before starting the program, is now her favorite subject. She’s even traveled to Seattle, Washington, to attend a conference on specialty coffee.

“It is in my blood,” she said. “Coffee is so much a part of everyday life — not just for me and my family, but globally. It’s not just a plant or something you drink; it brings people together.” Now she has a new career goal: to help neighboring coffee farmers make a living growing the best coffee possible.


Colombia’s five-decade-old armed conflict and ongoing human rights violations have made it a country with one of the largest numbers of internally displaced people in the world. The armed conflict, which began in the 1960s, has displaced more than 5.7 million people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

CRS provides humanitarian assistance to Colombians in the host communities that receive them in Ecuador. The agency strives to meet needs for food and non-food assistance; provides psychosocial support for victims of gender-based violence; works with schools to promote the integration of children and adolescents who come to border communities; provides training and support for income generation through productive ventures and SILC (Savings and Internal Lending Committees) microfinance groups that benefit the most vulnerable; and influences local authorities to develop favorable public policies for vulnerable populations. In addition, CRS works to strengthen civil society and create a culture of peace in the face of the country’s prolonged and complex crisis.

Rice Bowl 2016 Colombia
St. Cloud Mission Office cooks the CRS Rice Bowl featured recipe for Colombia — Empanadas.