St. Mary’s High School hopes to fill large rice bowl for CRS this Lent

Students from St. Matthew School, alongside their pastor and principal, presented a large "Rice Bowl" to St. Mary's High School Feb. 18. Students are joining families and parishes nationwide in the Lenten Rice Bowl prayers and acts of fasting and almsgiving benefiting Catholic Relief Services efforts worldwide. (courtesy photo)
Students from St. Matthew School, alongside their pastor and principal, presented a large “Rice Bowl” to St. Mary’s High School Feb. 18. Students are joining families and parishes nationwide in the Lenten Rice Bowl prayers and acts of fasting and almsgiving benefiting Catholic Relief Services efforts worldwide. (courtesy photo)

The first time St. Mary’s High School hosted its own Lenten Rice Bowl collection might feature one of the biggest “bowls” Catholic Relief Services has seen in its 40-year history.

The 4-by-2-foot wooden rice bowl on wheels was a gift from nearby St. Matthew Parish and School. Student council members alongside their principal and pastor delivered it Ash Wednesday during a school-wide liturgy.

Ignacio Pineda, a parishioner, had built one just like it last year complete with the same enlarged color images that CRS has on its one-inch cardboard bowls sent to participating parishes and schools across the U.S.

The enlarged visual reminder to give to those facing hunger worldwide skyrocketed results for St. Matthew. Parishioners raised $400 in 2013, but more than $3,000 last year when the rice bowl on wheels debuted. Similar collection efforts and improved communication for reporting rice bowl totals nearly doubled collections across the Diocese of Phoenix in the same time period.

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Catholic Relief Services

This is the 40th year that Catholics across the country have supported Catholic Relief Services’ efforts to feed the hungry worldwide via prayers, fasting and almsgiving that’s collected in a small cardboard box.

CRS Rice Bowl resources and activities in English and Spanish including a quiz

Lenten recipes from CRS Rice Bowl in Tanzania and Niger

Rice Bowl activities are ongoing throughout Lent, but the annual special collection benefiting CRS is March 14-15 at parishes nationwide.

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“It’s a great opportunity for our students to put virtue formation into action,” Ryan Ayala, campus minister, told The Catholic Sun after Mass.

Students learned more about the works the Church’s international humanitarian agency that spans 93 countries on five continents during theology class. They’ll continue to learn about the difference Lenten Rice Bowl proceeds make throughout Lent with stories and facts from printed rice bowl literature and online resources.

Ayala planned to place the rice bowl in high traffic areas around campus. Handmade posters already reminded students to save their change for the occasion. The Rice Bowl Lenten calendar encourages Catholics to give money, a quarter or two or four at a time, in solidarity with those worldwide who go without luxuries of food, transportation or a reliable income.

Students at other schools throughout the Diocese of Phoenix are also filling up their rice bowls. Participating high schools include Bourgade, Brophy and Seton.

Annunciation Catholic School in Cave Creek is also participating with teachers incorporating it into their Spanish curriculum. Steve Lopez, diocesan assistant for CRS Rice Bowl, said the school ordered rice bowl material in Spanish.

Rice Bowl activities encourage Catholics to pray, fast and give to those in need throughout Lent. Fr. Robert Bolding, president-rector at St. Mary’s High School, gave students an overview of these Lenten practices during his homily.

“A more important part of what we fast from is what we embrace,” Fr. Bolding said.

He encouraged students adapt a new prayer practice during Lent, even if it’s a five-minute stop inside the school’s chapel. He also mentioned donating money to worthy causes, or for those without jobs, to share their time and talent.

He called Lent a “season for us to go out into the desert with Jesus and sharpen our desire for the Lord.”