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February 18, 2004


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia begins the 29th annual campaign of Operation Rice Bowl on Ash Wednesday, February 27, 2004. The 40 day Lenten program encourages parishioners to fast one day a week during Lent. Families place money that would have been spent on meals into a cardboard "rice bowl" to remember those who are poor and hungry.

Funds raised through Operation Rice Bowl are distributed in the Archdiocese and through Catholic Relief Services, which is marking its 61st year as the official international humanitarian agency of the United States Catholic community. Approximately 12 million United States Catholic parishioners will use the Operation Rice Bowl materials during Lent 2004 as a guide to pray, fast, learn and give. The theme for Operation Rice Bowl 2004 is "Participating in Rice Bowl strengthens our solidarity with all members of the human family."

In 2003, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (279 parishes) raised $259,353. Seventy five percent (approximately $194,515) of the funds raised in the Archdiocese were distributed through Catholic Relief Services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Those funds were used to support development projects which teach farmers new techniques, bring clean water to communities and provide health and nutrition education to ensure the well being of the most vulnerable community members.

Twenty five percent (approximately $64,838) of the locally raised funds remained within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Nutritional Development Services, a department within Catholic Human Services, used these funds to stock local food cupboards and soup kitchens to serve the poor and hungry in the Philadelphia area.

The rice bowls are available from most parishes. In addition to fasting, participants are encouraged to pray and learn about our neighbors who live in poverty around the world and here at home.


Editor's Note: For more information about Catholic Relief Services and Operation Rice Bowl, visit

Donna Farrell
Broadcast and Media Specialist

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