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CRS program trains students to advocate on issues of importance to church


  • Students from various U.S. colleges receive instructions as they prepare to advocate for the voiceless on Capitol Hill in Washington July 26 during a legislative visit sponsored by Catholic Relief Services. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
  • Students from various U.S. colleges pose for a picture with Catholic Relief Services staff members outside of the office of Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington July 26 during a legislative visit sponsored by CRS. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
  • Students from various U.S. colleges meet with congressional aides on Capitol Hill in Washington July 26 to advocate for legislation favorable to the voiceless during a visit sponsored by Catholic Relief Services. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
  • Students from various U.S. colleges look over material as they prepare for advocating on behalf of the voiceless on Capitol Hill in Washington July 26 during a legislative visit sponsored by Catholic Relief Services. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
  • Students from various U.S. colleges receive instructions as they prepare to advocate for the voiceless on Capitol Hill in Washington July 26 during a legislative visit sponsored by Catholic Relief Services. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
  • Students from various U.S. colleges and Catholic Relief Services staff members walk the halls on Capitol Hill in Washington July 26 while advocating for the voiceless during a legislative visit sponsored by CRS. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Instead of hitting the beach this summer, students from roughly 40 U.S. colleges and universities, mainly Catholic institutions, attended an advocacy training program offered by Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency.

At training sessions in Baltimore at the agency's headquarters and at Loyola University Maryland July 25, about 120 students and faculty learned about issues important to the church and CRS, such as human trafficking, climate change and migration.

They listened to CRS professionals talk about their work in the field with poor communities worldwide, and they also had classes on social media, communications, campus organization, and advocacy.

They spent the next morning in Washington, meeting on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and staffers to discuss the issues.

"This program is a huge expression of faith," Aimee Perhach, a student at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana, told Catholic News Service after the lobbying sessions July 26. "Look at Matthew 25," she said, referring to the Gospel's admonition that whatever you do for others, especially the poor and marginalized, you do for God.

"Obviously, deeds are what he is judging on," she added.

Perhach said she has been working with CRS on her campus for two years before she came to Washington for the advocacy training.

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