Message from Sean Callahan

A Critical and Sacred Mission



New CRS President Sean Callahan holds 11 month old Siad from Kobane in Syria, as he and his refugee family cross the border from Serbia into Croatia. Photo by Andrew McConnell for CRS

New CRS President Sean Callahan carries Siad as he and his family cross the border from Serbia into Croatia. Photo by Andrew McConnell for CRS

Never has the Catholic Relief Services mission been more critical to Americans and, particularly, to American Catholics. As I assume the leadership of CRS, it is a time of great uncertainty in our country and around the world. More families than ever are displaced from their homes; there is greater and greater inequality in the global marketplace; and many of us are frightened that our lives can be irrevocably altered by a single, senseless, violent act.

And yet, remaining faithful to our mission, we have seen tremendous successes, including: significant reduction in deaths and negative economic impact from malaria in West Africa; more opportunities for families to support themselves through the creation of viable livelihoods; better capacity of local communities and organizations to respond to crises; and a real chance for people to achieve peace and reconciliation that upholds the sanctity of every human life.

At CRS we are blessed with a mission that searches for the best in humanity. We are inspired by the Holy Father, who said, “Each one of us is called to be an artisan of peace, by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths to dialogue and not by constructing new walls!”

He calls us to join together in communion with our brothers and sisters around the world—regardless of their religion or ethnicity—to ensure that human dignity is respected and that every individual is seen and treated as a child of God.

Visiting the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Sean prays while attending Mass at the Cathedral of Transfiguration Palo, Leyte. Photo by Kent Truog for Catholic Relief Services

Visiting the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Sean prays during Mass at the Cathedral of Transfiguration Palo, Leyte. Photo by Kent Truog for Catholic Relief Services

We work closely with the local Church, communities and governments in the countries we serve, and we recognize the opportunity we have to spread the Gospel through our actions and deeds. We know that, throughout the world, we represent the Catholic Church in the United States, and we take our responsibility seriously.

Next year, CRS will celebrate its 75th anniversary as the official overseas humanitarian agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As we reflect on our founding and our original mission—to assist refugees in the midst of war in far-off lands—we are struck by the courage, vision and calling of the Church in America in 1943, and the knowledge that it could not be bound by national borders. The Church’s boundaries were—and remain—only our own imagination and the capacity of the human heart.

Our anniversary calls us to remember those who selflessly put others first during a time of great need. I am humbled by this gift of selflessness that I see in my colleagues every day throughout the world. Their spirit is a source of strength and hope. I am also humbled by our generous donors who join our mission of serving others. Like our founders, you have an indomitable and bold spirit that ensures the vibrancy of the Catholic Church in the United States.


Sean addresses the Second Vatican Conference on Impact Investing: Making the Year of Mercy a Year of Impact for the Poor. Photo by Remo Casilli for CRS

It is your spirit, your commitment, your support—your relentless and faithful belief in the good of humanity and in the mission of CRS—that continue to move us forward during these times of great uncertainty.

Together, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will not waver from our mission to ensure that every child has the opportunity to flourish physically, mentally and spiritually; that every mother and father have the confidence to make decisions that will strengthen the health and unity of their family; and that every community will be able to reap a harvest of peace and prosperity.

Guided by our sacred mission, I look forward to seeing the many ways we can change the world together.

Peace and light,

Sean L. Callahan
President & CEO

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3 Responses to “A Critical and Sacred Mission”

  1. Myrt Rollins Says:

    Sean, Bless your efforts to lead us in the Church’s mission to those most in need of love, refuge, and dignity in our world today. We will be behind you and with you in all your good work! Much Hope in this New Year of the Lord! Myrt Rollins CRS Belleville,Illinois Diocesan Team

  2. Jacqueline Hamilton Says:

    Sean, to quote and paraphrase St Faustina:
    “Merciful Jesus, with You, I go boldly and courageously into conflicts and battles.
    In Your Name, I will to accomplish and overcome all things.”
    And I pray, My God, let your infinite goodness and mercy accompany Sean and Catholic Relief Services personnel in their resolutions and commitments to our suffering sisters and brothers throughout Your world.


    Sean God Blessed you we are together and share experience of CRS and how goals will be arrived i wish to visit you at Baltimore office this year 2017


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