Media CenterFast from the COVID-19 Fear through Lent

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Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, March 25, 2020 – As the continued COVID-19 pandemic forces schools, businesses and churches to close, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) encourages families to fast from the fear by refocusing on the Lenten season through CRS Rice Bowl.

“This is an incredibly challenging time,” said Beth Martin, CRS’ director of campaign action and content. “Families across the country are struggling to adapt to the new reality of being isolated from friends and neighbors. It’s heartbreaking, especially in this season of Lent. I encourage families to take a fresh look at CRS Rice Bowl, which offers both a virtual community through Facebook, and an easy way for families to practice our Lenten traditions at home with activities, reflections, videos and meatless recipes. CRS Rice Bowl can help bring Lent to life at home.”

Using CRS Rice Bowl materials designed for families and educators in conjunction with the CRS Rice Bowl YouTube videos, parents can provide their children with a way to focus on Lent. Worksheets allow for families to remove themselves from the daily onslaught on COVID-19 news and instead reflect on Gospel stories, such as the story of the loaves and fishes. These worksheets also provide daily prayers, insights into how people around the world live their Catholic faith and the best ways to help our brothers and sisters in need.

“Rice Bowl’s Lenten Program…has been the perfect solution to make the Lenten season more meaningful and personal,” said Kathy Broughton, a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist in Columbia, Maryland. “We look forward to the prayers and reflections each night and have really enjoyed watching the weekly videos. My children have been humbled learning of the experiences of the three children featured in the video.”

Every year families from 14,000 communities across the country use nearly 4 million rice bowls for almsgiving. Those bowls, which are usually turned into their parishes at the end of Lent, provide assistance to the most vulnerable around the world and in the local community. 75% of every donation goes to CRS programming while 25% remains in the local diocese.

“My children are also genuinely excited to donate money – nearly every day they drop in a few coins and bills,” Broughton said. “My oldest made us particularly proud when he contributed $30 – a significant chunk of his savings – and then it domino-ed into his younger siblings trying to match him!”

During this time of social distancing, families are encouraged to “turn in” their rice bowl almsgiving digitally at and join the official CRS Rice Bowl Facebook group to share their Lenten experiences.


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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Public Relations Strategist

Brittany Wichtendahl
March 26, 2020

Brittany Wichtendahl is a public relations strategist for Catholic Relief Services, out of Baltimore. Drafting press releases for secular and Catholic news media, Brittany also crafts pitches to help publicize CRS's work. She writes op-eds for placement in national print publications, and monitors news outlets for stories related to CRS and CRS programming.

Brittany is a graduate of...More