By Colleen Rowan
Rev. Mr. Justin Blanc, newly ordained deacon for the diocese, spent a week with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Africa, learning about the organization and its support and aid for the people.
Along with a contingent of priests, deacons and others, Deacon Blanc left Rome, where he is in seminary, for CRS’ Global Fellows Program, which allows people to see firsthand how CRS operates in a particular country and how donations are spent.
“CRS offers these opportunities to seminarians and priests … to get to know the people of the country and to see how CRS operates so that we can then spread the word about CRS,” Deacon Blanc said.
Rev. Mr. Justin Blanc is pictured during his participation in Catholic Relief Services’ Global Fellows Program in Sierra Leone earlier this year.
The group traveled to Sierra Leone, Africa, and then to Freetown, where CRS headquarters is located in the country. They then traveled to the City of Bo, where they met with the local bishop and clergy and visited a clinic CRS established. They then visited the City of Kenema and many other places where CRS has been doing work for a long time.
Deacon Blanc said that it was great to see the work that CRS is doing to help the people of the country.
“I was very impressed with the way they cooperate with the local communities,” he said. “They’ve been there a long time and have really established a friendship with the local communities. They listen to the needs of the people and evaluate what resources they have to offer. … They have a strong Catholic identity and that comes through in the work they do.”
Deacon Blanc said the trip came at the perfect time as he was studying Catholic social teaching in seminary.