Media CenterCRS Convenes More Than 100 Supporters in Washington, D.C. for its First-Ever National Gathering in Support of U.S. Foreign Aid

Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

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Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(978) 884-0003

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, June 30, 2023 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the overseas aid agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, convened more than 120 of its supporters in Washington, D.C. this week for its first-ever National Gathering, a multiday event that included Congressional visits in support of U.S. foreign aid.

“The National Gathering enables us to speak with one voice as Catholics and as Americans about the growing needs of our sisters and brothers around the world who are facing a staggering number of challenges, including conflict, climate change and inflation,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy. “We are blessed to have so many faithful supporters in the U.S. committed to fighting for those facing such challenges.”

The gathering, which took place June 27-30 at the Catholic University of America, convened CRS partners from 26 states, including CRS chapter and club leaders; Hispanic ministry leaders; and CRS’ national and university partners. The event included prayer, community building, and training as well as a day on Capitol Hill. Supporters met with Congressional offices to advocate for lifesaving U.S. foreign aid, including programs in the U.S. Farm Bill.

“Being part of the CRS chapters allows me to come here to Washington, D.C. to advocate for those not only within the United States but internationally,” said National Gathering participant Julia Cendejas, a rising sophomore at Mount Saint Mary’s University Los Angeles.

As the international aid agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, CRS partners with the local Church in more than 100 countries to alleviate poverty by working with communities to address their needs, ranging from food and shelter in emergencies to land restoration and climate change projects. The National Gathering is part of CRS’ efforts to mobilize U.S. supporters in its mission of eradicating poverty and injustice.

“It is a blessing to be here, especially among so many others from across the country, "said Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano of San Diego, a National Gathering participant. “All of us share the same responsibility to help others. It’s not only part of our virtues, but it’s part of our corporal works of mercy. It’s our job to help our representatives see that supporting foreign aid really makes a difference.”

The National Gathering comes at an important moment for Catholics advocating for lifesaving foreign aid; the U.S. House recently introduced a draft budget that would cut foreign assistance by up to a third, including substantial cuts to development assistance and life-saving global health and humanitarian aid. Foreign aid accounts for less than 1% of the federal budget.

“We want to make sure that international aid is not cut,” said National Gathering participant Gail Krause of Mount Saint Mary’s University Los Angeles. “It’s our moral and ethical responsibility as Catholics and as Christians to advocate against these cuts. Our brothers and sisters around the world deserve not only to survive, but to thrive.”


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, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
June 30, 2023

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More