Media CenterCRS Celebrates 75th Anniversary This Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
Monthly Podcast Series Takes Listeners through CRS’ History
BALTIMORE, MD, January 23, 2018 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is proud to announce its 75th year as one of the leading humanitarian and development organizations around the world. At a time when humanitarian needs globally are at an all-time high, CRS has achieved more than 7 decades of innovation and growth to fight poverty around the world. CRS will commemorate this milestone with a number of recognition and promotional events over the next 12 months.
“This is a time when we celebrate all that we have accomplished over the past 75 years, and double down on our commitment to provide life-saving and life-transforming assistance to some of the most disadvantaged people around the world,” said Sean Callahan, president & CEO of CRS, who became the agency’s eighth president last year. “This anniversary, more importantly, is an occasion to look forward to see how we can be even more effective as we confront global poverty in the coming decades.”
In three-quarters of a century, CRS has grown from a handful of people helping refugees to more than 7,000 employees around the world who touch the lives of 100 million people in more than 100 countries. The official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, the organization has an annual budget that exceeds $800 million.
CRS continues to be on the cutting edge, using the latest in technology – such as drones to map agricultural projects in West Africa, cell phones that deliver important health information to mothers in India, and satellite-linked sensors on wells in arid areas of Kenya. But CRS doesn’t stop there. As the organization develops a new 5-year strategy to begin next year, “we are considering some of the world’s most pressing issues, including a youth bulge and unemployment in Africa, the institutionalization of children in orphanages, the near-eradication of malaria and the effect of a changing climate on farmers, for example,” Callahan said.
CRS’ roots are now more relevant than ever, with a global refugee and migration crisis not seen since World War II. In 1943, with fighting raging around the world – and many remembering the millions of refugees that World War I produced – the Catholic bishops in the United States formed War Relief Services to deal with the refugee crisis as a result of World War II. Refugee assistance and resettlement – not only in Europe but also throughout Asia– remained the focus of War Relief Services for its first several years. In 1955 CRS began addressing the problem of chronic poverty in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“From its beginning, Catholics in the United States saw this agency as an expression of the compassion of Jesus Christ, carrying out the mission he gave us in the gospels,” said Bishop Gregory J. Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn and chairman of CRS’ Board. “Even as the work has expanded and grown more complex, that gospel mission has always remained the foundation of everything that CRS does.”
A new monthly podcast series, released this month, chronicles some of CRS’ history and the stories of people either affected by or working for CRS, such as Julek Plowey who as a 3-year-old in 1943 was among thousands of Polish refugees who had made their way from Siberia in the Soviet Union to Iran. War Relief Services’ initial mission was to help many of those refugees re-settle in Mexico. The podcast is available on a website devoted to the CRS’ 75 years anniversary.
“In our work, we have been fortunate to assist some of the most resilient, resourceful and entrepreneurial people who work tirelessly to make a better life for their families,” Callahan said. “CRS gives them a hand-up, not a handout, and it’s because of their energy and the generosity of our donors that we can point to more farmers growing more food, more people starting small businesses, more children getting an education, and more women who don’t have to walk miles for water because of new wells, and countless other examples of people living lives of dignity.”
CRS has been a careful steward of donors’ funds, with one of the lowest overhead rates among international development agencies. With 94 percent of its budget going to programming around the world, six percent is used not just for administrative and fundraising efforts but pays for some of the top experts in areas like agriculture and health, for example, that inform and guide the efforts of those on the ground.
With its world headquarters in Baltimore, CRS is part of the Church’s international Caritas network, working through local partners at the invitation of the local bishop. Most of its employees are residents of countries that CRS serves.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.