WRIGHTSTOWN — When Fr. Patrick Malone preaches about Catholic Relief Services (CRS), he calls for action, so it is no surprise that he asks for some “Amen” responses during his homily. Fr. Malone, a CRS Global Fellow, presided at two Masses and preached at five liturgies, Feb. 13 and 14, at the worship sites of St. Clare Parish — Askeaton, Greenleaf and Wrightstown. He kicked off CRS Rice Bowl participation in the parish community.
“Lent is a time to get in touch with who we are, where we’ve come from … recognize our need for conversion,” said Fr. Malone, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, Kan. “The Holy Father has called us to look beyond ourselves, to reach out to the world. He has declared this Year of Mercy. There are 1.2 billion people in the world who live on less than $1 a day. How can we respond?”
Putting a face on one of those 1.2 billion will create a greater desire to help, he explained. Fr. Malone encouraged the congregation to see all people as their sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers.
“Mother Teresa said, ‘If you can’t feed 100 people, then just feed one.’ If every person in the U.S. gave $1, think about the difference it would make in the world,” he said.
Fr. Malone became a CRS Global Fellow eight years ago following retirement from active ministry in Wichita. He has participated in CRS overseas immersion programs, preaches nationally for CRS and joins other Global Fellows in annual formation training. Fr. Malone, a graduate of Marquette University and Kendrick Seminary in St. Louis, said that he will travel eight weekends this year to preach for CRS. The remaining weekends, he fills in at parishes in his diocese. Norbertine Br. Steve Herro, pastoral associate at St. Clare Parish, in cooperation with Fr. Dennis Bergsbaken, pastor, arranged for Fr. Malone’s visit.
In addition to prayer, fasting and almsgiving, Fr. Malone said that Lent should be a time of learning. He suggested reading the information on the Rice Bowl and the calendar insert.
“See what your money is doing,” he said. “Read the stories. There are a number of recipes. Eat some authentic food. We spend big bucks to go to ethnic restaurants.”
Text printed on the Rice Bowls also includes a Lenten prayer and a breakdown of how donations help those in need. One dollar a day for 40 days of Lent provides one month of food for a family, two years of seed for a farmer or three months of clean water for four families.
Fr. Malone posed a question during his homily. He asked those in the pews if God loves us more than those who live on less than $1 a day.
“No, but that makes me uncomfortable,” he said. “Why me? Why have I been so blessed? God has blessed us so much that we should be his instruments. We have a responsibility. That word scares us.”
Seventy-five percent of CRS Rice Bowl donations support programs around the world. Twenty-five percent of donations fight hunger and poverty locally. Eric Weydt, Catholic social justice coordinator for the Diocese of the Green Bay, said that the diocese has annually collected between $50,000 and $70,000 through CRS Rice Bowl.
Other resources to promote learning include the CRS Rice Bowl app, which can be downloaded by scanning the bottom of the cardboard vessel. Fr. Malone also suggested that people visit crsricebowl.org.
“I served at an inner city parish. People would come to the door at all hours of the day and night,” said Fr. Malone. “An easy way to get rid of them was to give them a few bucks. If you talk to them, get to know them, respond to their real needs, then you treat them with dignity and respect. If they were living next door to you, you wouldn’t ignore them. We can do a lot more than what we are doing.”
Fr. Malone closed his homily by blessing baskets filled with CRS Rice Bowls. He invited a member of each family to come forward to receive a Rice Bowl.