The last week of October is when Catholic Relief Services (CRS) conducts their annual gathering for their Global Fellows. Motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life and foster charity and justice, CRS carries out the commitment of the bishops of the US to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas.
CRS Global Fellows are trained and vetted to represent CRS in dioceses across the United States. They deliver engaging homilies during weekend liturgies and present at community events. Their witness describes the good work that the Catholic Church is doing alongside the world’s most vulnerable people. Global Fellows also offer concrete examples of how your parish or community can help CRS respond to the gospel call to serve our brothers and sisters.
There are two Global Fellows in North Carolina: Deacon Stephen Yates from St. Thomas More in Chapel Hill and Deacon Josh Klickman from St Patrick in Fayetteville. In addition to speaking to parishes and other groups, Global Fellows engage in several Congressional visits throughout the year. On the 24th of October, they assembled in Baltimore and learned about pressing issues around global poverty from CRS staff. The next day, Global Fellows from 20 states visited their elected officials. Deacons Stephen and Josh visited the offices of their respective House Representatives, Price and Hudson, and together visited the offices of Senators Tillis and Burr.
The two “asks” for this visit were to ensure the highest funding levels possible for poverty -- increasing international development and humanitarian assistance in 2023 and to reauthorize the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act. These two measures serve to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to ending hunger and malnutrition globally and support continuation of the Feed the Future Initiative to build resilience and reduce extreme poverty.
When asked about the reason for joining CRS as a Global Fellow, Deacon Josh said, “I spent 24 years in the Army, so I applied to become a Global Fellow because it just felt like a good fit for me to continue the (Special Forces) mission to ‘Free the Oppressed.’ As a CRS Global Fellow, I have the opportunity to travel and to meet people from around the world and then deliver personal stories of the CRS mission to my parish so that we can take action for a better world.”
Deacon Stephen added, “I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the global mission of the USCCB in making real differences in the lives of people who are in need. Sometimes we can get easily lost in our simple needs and lose track of the life-critical needs of those living in desperate conditions due to natural and human-made disasters.”