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Bishop Burbidge blesses CRS Rice Bowls

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Lent is rich in rituals and sights. There are ashes formed into a cross on a penitent’s forehead. Deep purple colors adorn vestments. There is frequent recitation of the Stations of the Cross.  

Another fixture of Lent is the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge blessed CRS Rice Bowls for diocesan schools at the Ash Wednesday Mass at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington Feb. 14.


The CRS Rice Bowl program is in its fifth decade. The theme this year is “Share the Journey.” CRS Rice Bowl donations are distributed locally and worldwide to combat hunger. It started as an ecumenical effort in the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., in 1975. 

During his homily, Bishop Burbidge reflected on the words St. Teresa of Kolkata used in answering a reporter’s question of ‘What has to change?’ “She looked back to the reporter and she answered in three words — ‘you and I.’ She’s right. We have to change. And that is the special invitation of Lent. In our faith, we call it conversion, a radical transformation of the way we live at every level, a willingness to acknowledge the sin we have in our lives (that) we have to acknowledge so we can walk in the light.”

Following the distribution of communion, Bishop Burbidge blessed the Rice Bowls.

“God of all people, You are the source of every blessing. May we be mindful of Your presence now and beg You to bless these CRS Rice Bowls to inspire us this Lent as we pray, fast and give alms,” said Bishop Burbidge. “May they be instruments of encounter bringing us closer to you our God, and to our neighbors both near and far.” 

The school presented Bishop Burbidge with a spiritual bouquet before the end of Mass. 

“In honor of the school’s 60th anniversary, students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff committed to 60 hours of service in the community to mark this occasion,” said Mary Jane Spurlock, director of communications for O’Connell.

The blessing of the CRS Rice Bowls ties in with the CRS Global High School program that the high schools began participating in this semester.

“What a beautiful thing that Bishop Burbidge is blessing the efforts of our high schools to become global high schools and to help our next generation of Catholics to encounter the poor overseas and in our backyard,” said Carla Walsh, diocesan program coordinator for CRS and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018