Catholic Relief Services talk is spiced with global flavors

Daniel Lizárraga, southwest regional director for Catholic Relief Services, visited Arkansas April 23-24 to talk about his organization, which is the international humanitarian relief and development agency for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
His presentation titled, “Global Solidarity and Catholic Relief Services: A first-hand account of working with CRS” was given at three Little Rock locations: Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church on April 23; St. John Center on April 24 and in Spanish at the Chapel of St. Theresa also on April 24.
At the noon gathering at St. John Center, 22 employees of the Diocese of Little Rock were served a lunch consisting of recipes from the 2007 Operation Rice Bowl calendar. Parishes and Catholic schools nationwide participate in ORB during Lent, which is a CRS fundraising program that includes prayer, fasting, almsgiving and educates participants about world poverty and how they can help alleviate it.
Though based in Baltimore, Lizárraga explained that CRS regional offices were formed in recent years to work more closely with dioceses. The southwest region includes 28 dioceses in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. It is based on San Antonio.
After visiting all the dioceses in Texas, Arkansas was Lizárraga’s second stop on a mission to visit all the dioceses in his region.
Lizárraga said CRS, inspired by the Gospel, “strives to respect the dignity of all people.”
He said CRS empowers those in need by teaching them to be self-sustaining and builds community development by not “going in there and saying, ’this is the way things need to be done.’”
CRS enters a country through invitation and in collaboration with the Catholic diocese in the region needing assistance, he said, and serves all in need regardless of creed, race, gender or ethnicity.
CRS responds to disasters both natural, such as the 2005 Southeast Asia tsunami, and humanitarian, such people suffering from genocide in the Sudan, war-torn Rwanda and the AIDS epidemic throughout Africa.
“We pray, we participate and we advocate,” he said summarizing CRS’ work.
He said 65 million Catholics live in the United States, the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, and together, “we can make a difference.”
“Globalization has pushed us in there economically, politically, socially and I think that we as Catholics have an opportunity and an obligation to act in that capacity and be a model of what it means to be a neighbor.”
People can help by supporting CRS’ programs such as ORB, Food Fast, Fair Trade and Work of Human Hands. In addition, they can contribute to the national Catholic Relief Services collection held annually on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
For more information, go to the CRS page on the diocesan Web site,

An international menu
Diocesan staff feasted on an international lunch April 24. The menu included a lentil dish called Mash Daal from Pakistan; Kizaka, a collard green dish, from Angola, Africa; Rice Casserole from Nogales, Mexico; Sour Soup from Cambodia; and Tuwo da mia Kubewa (okra with corn meal porridge) from Niger, West Africa.
The meatless dishes were flavored differently from American dishes with an unusual mixture of ingredients. For example, the yellow squash, tomatoes, peppers and bean sprouts in the Sour Soup were flavored by lime juice, white vinegar, mint, salt, sugar, garlic and pineapples. And the collard greens in the Kizaka were mixed with vegetable broth, onions, peanuts, garlic and tomatoes. It was served with white rice.

Tara Little

Tara Little joined Arkansas Catholic in 2000 and has served in various capacities, including production manager and associate editor. Since 2006 she has managed the website for the Diocese of Little Rock.

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