The beginning of spring is always such a special time for those of us in the Church, a time when the earth is reborn, when green leaves and buds appear, when the crocuses and daffodils find their way out of the ground and dazzle us with their colors. All of this is brought forth by the warmth of the sun fulfilling the promise it made when it began to lengthen our days following the winter solstice.
For us, this is a time of Easter, Christianity’s most important holiday. We celebrate a literal rebirth, the resurrection of Jesus Christ—a fulfillment of the promise he made as the Messiah. In the span of a few days, Jesus’ followers, the apostles, his family and the Blessed Mother went into the darkest of winters as they saw their savior crucified, forsaken on the cross, only then to emerge into the most brilliant of springs as the stone was rolled away from the tomb.
With this, God brought all of us the promise of redemption and resurrection. What do we do with this life we have been given, this wonderful promise, the astounding opportunity? We know that we must try to fulfill God’s mission, to follow the path laid out for us in the Gospels.
At Catholic Relief Services, we provide Catholics in the United States a portion of that path, one that leads around the world, connecting us with our brothers and sisters in God’s family. And when we reach them, it is with a helping hand, one that holds out the same promise made in the resurrection.
We know we do not have the power of the Heavenly Father, that we are all-too-fallible humans prone to mistakes, but sometimes what we do does seem to me to be miraculous. Take our work with AIDSRelief, a public-private consortium that brings treatment and help to so many affected by HIV and AIDS. Funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, one of the most important aspects of AIDSRelief is to bring antiretroviral treatment to those with this virus. Some on the verge of death soon find themselves enjoying good health. There is a reason they call this “the Lazarus effect”!
Now we are handing over those programs to our local partners. In some places, it’s the government; in others, it’s Catholic organizations; in still others, local humanitarian groups. Whatever the group, it means that we are leaving behind strong local structures that will continue this lifesaving, life-giving, life-affirming work for generations to come.
Although HIV and AIDS work is quite dramatic, much of our other work in health and health-related fields has had an equally important effect on lives. Just as with the AIDSRelief hand-over, we always work to build lasting programs, such as community-based health clinics that will go on delivering small miracles long after we have left.
One example is Haiti’s St. François de Sales Hospital: We’re building it back better, equipping it to train the next generation of health professionals to serve that country. It is because of you that this is possible.
Health is the basis of so much of our work. It is the cornerstone on which we all build our families and economies, but disease is a daily reality for so many in the countries where we work. Without the availability of proper health care, even minor illnesses can turn life-threatening. Far too often, the sick are in that darkest of winters. But because of you, they soon enjoy the brilliant springtime of good health.
I hope you enjoy such a springtime this Easter.
May blessing overflow,
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President & CEO
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