My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A year ago, I was elected to a three year term to serve on the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The Board consists of 13 bishops as well as 7 lay and religious men and women. Each year, members of the Board are asked to visit locations around the world where CRS maintains emergency and long-term relief, food and clothing distribution centers, and medical facilities. This year, I have been asked to join another Board member in visiting the country of Ethiopia in east Africa.
CRS serves the needs of people oversees, in all corners of the world. From time to time, you are asked to support emergency relief efforts in these areas. The most recent circumstances were in Haiti and Japan. However, one of CRS’ longest commitments has been to Ethiopia. Although the people of Ethiopia have suffered the consequences of droughts and starvation for decades, their severe plight received international attention only since the mid 1980’s. However, with the financial help of the faithful of the United States, CRS has been providing services to the people of Ethiopia long before the mid 1980’s and continues to the present day.
My task will be to visit various mission sites in Ethiopia, as well as in nearby Nairobi and Kenya, to assess the work of CRS. I will depart on June 27th and return July 6th. When I return, I hope to provide pictures and stories on our diocesan website. Art Lewis of WSGW has also invited me to share my experience on his radio show.
I would love to be in a position to tell the people of Ethiopia that I bring with me the love, prayers and solidarity of the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw. So, I ask you to keep the people of Ethiopia in your prayers during the next few weeks. Pray for my safe journey; and, on my return, I will share with you how you and countless other concerned people have made a difference in the lives of millions of men, women and children in Ethiopia.
With prayerful best wishes, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, D.D.
Bishop of Saginaw