Catholic Relief Services Marks 70 Years of Lifesaving Service With Stories of Faith and Innovation
In 1943, as war raged across Europe, thousands of bedraggled Polish refugees fleeing Soviet forced labor camps streamed across the border of Iran. Most were women and children, or very old men, their bodies emaciated, their feet swollen and bleeding. Realizing they had reached sanctuary, many fell to their knees and wept.
There to meet them were representatives of a newly formed agency, War Relief Services, representing the love and goodwill of Catholics in the United States.
Seventy years later, that agency is known as Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian organization of the Catholic community in the U.S. It has grown from that single mission of mercy to an organization that fights poverty and nurtures human dignity in nearly 100 countries around the world.
This week, CRS began marking the milestone of seven decades of service by launching a commemorative web page and unveiling its 70th Anniversary Logo, featured on the home page of crs.org.
Through the web page, CRS will tell the stories of faith, service and innovation that shaped it into the agency it is today. The first story comes from a French nun, Sister Clotilde Regereau, who in 1948 shared her story to a gathering of the National Council of Catholic Women, telling how CRS touched her life and the lives of the people she was dedicated to serve:
“Once Upon a Time,” she began, “there was a country in Europe, which was very unhappy. A Second World War had reduced it to ruins. Occupied by the enemy, deprived of millions of her sons by death, imprisonment and detention in concentration camps, France had suffered bitter losses since 1939. By her prayers and her sufferings, she implored the help of God. In answer to this plea, God provided America to relieve the people of Europe….
“When I recall how the activity of War Relief Services—National Catholic Welfare Conference began, grew and developed in France, I feel as if I were reading a fairy tale, which, like all fairy tales, ends on a note of happiness and hope.”
CRS’ 70th Anniversary commemoration will go into high gear with the May 6 kick-off of a seven-week countdown to July 1, the date in 1943 that CRS launched its first project. Each week, the 70th Anniversary web page will feature two stories: one an inspiring story of the work of CRS as a manifestation of our faith in Jesus Christ; and the other about how continual innovation over the decades has helped CRS to provide the excellence that our brothers and sisters living in poverty deserve.
Weekly 70th Anniversary Updates will be emailed to anyone who signs up for them on the 70th Anniversary commemorative web page.
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