JUSTeach Newsletter

February 2005

social justice education

"Operation Rice Bowl" and other Resources Highlight Lenten Justice Themes

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Operation Rice Bowl, the Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, which began in the Diocese of Allentown, PA in 1975.  Today, millions of Catholics in more than 14,600 parishes, schools, and other faith communities across the U.S. use Operation Rice Bowl as a means to share in the work of CRS, and grow in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need around the world.  Operation Rice Bowl embraces the themes of Lent and invites participants to pray with their families and faith communities, fast in solidarity with those who are hungry, learn about our brothers and sisters around the world, and give sacrificial contributions to the poor.

            For help in challenging our students and adults to "Act Justly" during the coming Lenten season, check into the resources from CRS and other Catholic organizations cited here.  Again this year, the excellent “Educators’ Guide” for Operation Rice Bowl contains detailed (and abbreviated) versions of lesson plans targeting four grade levels and four countries for each:  Eritrea, Ecuador, the Philippines and Egypt.  The lesson plans are available at www.catholicrelief.org, and in the Guide mailed with the 2005 ORB Packet to all parishes by CRS.  Among this year’s versions, we suggest the following as perhaps easiest to incorporate for each of the grade levels:  for Gr. 1-3, Ecuador; Gr. 4-6, Eritrea; Gr. 7-8, Philippines; Gr. 9-12, Egypt.  The ORB Home Calendar Guide is also helpful for home or classroom use.

            Other well-designed lesson plans and activity sheets for teaching social justice concepts during Lent are available from the website of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development of the New Zealand Bishops Conference: www.safeshop.co.nz/caritas/default.php.  Especially recommended are sections of their 2003 Lent Kits (the most recent available) which focus on Kenya – pp. 26-28 and 35-42 of the curriculum for Grades 4-6, at www.safeshop.co.nz/caritas/school/resources/lentres/lent04_4-6.pdf, and pp. 26-36 of the Grades 7-8 curriculum, at www.safeshop.co.nz/caritas/school/resources/lentres/lent_7-8.pdf.

            Further resources include the annual Lenten calendar offered by the Diocese of Erie, PA (www.eriercd.org/pdf/Lentcalendar.pdf), and the materials for Lent from the Holy Childhood Association.  These can be ordered through their website (www.worldmissions-catholicchurch.org/HCA/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=4&tabid=16), or by calling the Peace and Social Justice Office at 815-834-4028.

            This month we also want to advise all Catholic high school teachers of an opportunity to apply for the 2005 “Frontiers of Justice” program.  Cosponsored by CRS and the NCEA, the program sends six teachers each year to visit CRS overseas programs and strengthen their understanding of Catholic Social Teaching through the peacemaking and development work of CRS.  This year the Frontiers of Justice trip will be to Kosovo/South Balkans to visit CRS programs in education and peacebuilding. The trip is scheduled for the first two weeks of July.  Teachers and school administrators who are committed to fostering global solidarity in their school communities are invited to send in their application by February 25, 2005. For more information including a downloadable application form, click here.