Since joining the board of Catholic Relief Services two years ago I have made three visits to various CRS project sites around the world. It has been an extraordinary blessing to witness the good work being done worldwide on behalf of Catholics in the United States. While many noble efforts are carried out in the name of individual Catholics and local communities, CRS is the official humanitarian development and relief agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
My visit in early February to the Philippines was the first time I had seen CRS in action in one of its signature program areas, emergency response. This visit came in the wake of the November Super-typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, as it is called locally. Three months after the devastating storm raked across the island nation, I participated in a delegation that included, among others, Dr. Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of CRS, and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB. Our delegation spent time with local CRS staff, local Church officials and international Caritas partners who have been on the frontlines of the disaster response in Tacloban and Palo on the island of Leyte, where we spent a considerable portion of our time.