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Volunteers help CRS engage in Boston parishes

New CRS parish ambassadors are pictured at the Pastoral Center, Nov. 25. Courtesy photo

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Catholic Relief Services Leadership Development Project rolled into Boston in November to launch a new program, the CRS Parish Ambassador Corps with the goal of helping CRS to have direct parish engagement.

Seventeen parishes were represented at the two-day retreat by 20 newly commissioned parish ambassadors. Through the program, the international humanitarian agency, which is active in 90 countries around the world, is seeking to build bridges between the work that they do and the people who make it possible through their generosity and prayers -- the parishioners in the United States.

Boston joins Cleveland and Seattle as "beta" test sites for this initiative.

Deborah K. Rambo, President of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Boston, invited CRS to Boston and is the local leader for the Ambassador Corps. Rambo is assisted by Deacon Reynold Spadoni of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Walpole and Mary Campion of St. Agatha Parish in Milton, both of whom recruited the ambassadors and will provide ongoing direction and training. Jackie Baldino of Holy Family Parish in Concord and Danielle Corea of St. Ignatius Parish in Newton, are both local CRS project experts who will support the efforts of the parish ambassadors.

CRS was founded 72 years ago by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops in response to the growing crisis of refugees caused by the war in Europe. Today CRS provides assistance to over 130 million people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Today, CRS works directly and with other organizations around the world to help poor and vulnerable people overcome emergencies, earn a living through agriculture and access affordable health care. As a member of Caritas International, the worldwide network of Catholic humanitarian agencies, CRS provides relief in emergency situations. CRS has employees based in 90 countries so they are able to respond quickly to natural disasters or civil unrest or epidemics.

The most immediate priority for CRS in times of crisis is to help save lives and provide basic shelter, food and water to those suffering. The next focus is building and executing a strategy for recovery to help people get back on their feet in a way that might provide new opportunities and protect or minimize future dangers.

While natural disasters are headline news and are often the most visible examples of the work they do, CRS also works continuously to help people in the developing world break the cycle of poverty through community-based, sustainable development initiatives as well as Peacebuilding. Assistance is based solely on need, not race, creed or nationality.

The new parish ambassadors in the Archdiocese of Boston are: Peter Buck and Mary Celeste Brown of Sacred Heart Parish, Roslindale; Mark Lippolt of St. Cecilia Parish, Boston; Jackie Baldino and Mike and Valerie Eagan of Holy Family Parish, Concord; Amy Dow and Virgel Blashke of the Cranberry Collaborative, Plymouth; John Carchedi and Deacon Rey Spadoni of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Walpole; Mary Sheedy and Deacon Fred Horgan of St. Jude and St. Edward Collaborative in Norfolk and Medfield; Mary Herx-Morrill, Thomas Mascas Faxon, Kate Mason and Kathleen Crawford of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sharon; Kathy Devaney of St. Mary Parish, Charlestown; Deacon Tim Donohue of St. Theresa and Most Precious Blood, Sherborn and Dover; Betsy Clifford, St. Albert the Great and St. Francis Collaborative, Weymouth; and Adriana Goodfellow of St. Mary of the Hills Parish, Milton.

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