By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Egypt. The Philippines. West Philadelphia. Ghana. Honduras.

Outreach to the poor abroad and at home is the subject of an upcoming Lenten series of talks sponsored by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

The five-week series – held each Wednesday of Lent excluding Ash Wednesday – begins March 4 at the Archdiocesan Office Center, 222 N. 17th St. in Philadelphia.

A light lunch of soup and bread is served at the hour-long session, which begins with a brief prayer service at noon, follows with the presentation and concludes with a reflection.

Reservations are not required. Free-will offerings for the lunch will be directed to CRS’ Operation Rice Bowl.

Operation Rice Bowl is the Lenten solidarity program of CRS that joins the traditional practices of Lent through prayer as a community, fasting in union with those around the world who are hungry, learning about the global community and challenges of poverty overseas and providing sacrificial assistance to those most in need.

During Lent, Catholic families contribute coins and bills into cardboard rice bowls they receive from CRS to help people in need locally and to fund development projects overseas. Twenty-five percent of the rice bowl dollars remain local and help support area food cupboards and soup kitchens, according to Anne H. Ayella, director of CRS for the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

The schedule of CRS Lenten talks is:

March 4: Egypt
March 11: Honduras
March 18: West Philadelphia – St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish
March 25: Ghana
April 1: Philippines

Obtain a cardboard rice bowl and home calendar guide at your parish or Catholic school, or through the CRS office of the Archdiocese by calling (215) 895-3470, Extension 717, or e-mailing

Rice bowls and guides may also be obtained through the CRS Northeast Regional Office in Radnor at (610) 293-4669, or by e-mailing

For more information about CRS’ Operation Rice Bowl, visit the web site

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or