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Venzor: Calling all Catholic advocates

“If indeed ‘the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,’ the Church ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.’” – Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel,” No. 183.

The annual advocacy day of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), Catholics at the Capitol, is just around the corner: March 27. And you – and your family and friends – are invited! 

Catholics at the Capitol is a perfect opportunity to let your voice be heard about legislative issues that matter to you as a Catholic, regardless of whether you are a political novice or political junkie.

Catholics at the Capitol provides an invigorating moment to interact in-person with your elected representatives, alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is our opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, to enter more deeply into the call of discipleship – to bring liberty to the captive, freedom to the oppressed, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked – to help establish peace and justice on earth through the promotion of good public policy.

This year’s Catholics at the Capitol will begin at St. Mary Church, 14th and K streets in Lincoln (just north of the state Capitol). For those who can attend, Mass will be at 8:15 a.m. in the church.

Check-in begins in the basement of St. Mary at 8:45 a.m. Be sure to arrive early, before I eat all the donuts and drink all the coffee – just kidding, I don’t drink coffee!

The morning program, which is free of charge, begins at 9:15 a.m. with various speakers discussing important legislative matters and how your voice makes a difference in the political process. 

This year’s keynote speaker will be Nebraska State Treasurer John Murante. Before his recent election as state treasurer, he spent several years in the Nebraska state Legislature. Murante has a wealth of experience in public policy and how his Catholic faith interacts with politics. He will talk about the various ways Catholics can effectively engage in the lawmaking process.

NCC staff will provide a run-down of some of the key bills on this year’s legislative agenda. Marion Miner, associate director for pro-life and family, will highlight critical issues related to building the culture of life. He will discuss legislation that seeks to safeguard pro-life values, such as making sure mothers are fully informed about life-affirming options to reverse their chemical abortions and keeping our taxpayer dollars away from the abortion industry. He will also discuss legislative efforts that seek to expand the influence of the culture of death by expanding abortion and contraception.

I will provide an overview of our legislative efforts that seek to safeguard religious liberty, promote educational choice, assist those in poverty and stand in solidarity with immigrants. This will include discussing legislation that promotes the ability of people of faith to live and act in accord with their sincerely held moral and religious beliefs on marriage and human sexuality without government punishment, enhances the ability of low-income families to obtain more educational choice for their children, and ensures that the interests of the immigrant community are heard.

Lauren Garcia, NCC’s communications and outreach specialist, will share practical wisdom about being an effective citizen-advocate with your state senator, and how you can radiate the truth with charity as an ambassador for Christ in your interactions.

At 10:45 a.m. we will head to the state Capitol to watch legislative debate, followed by time to talk with your state senator about legislative bills important to you.

Following the morning program, there will be an optional lunch event at the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center. Transportation will be provided. The lunch will feature several state senators. Each senator will share some of the ways he or she is bringing their faith into politics through legislative efforts that promote human dignity and the common good. The lunch program is $10 to help cover the cost of the meal.

I hope that you take this opportunity to join Catholics from across Nebraska to represent our faith at this critical moment in time. Please register at www.necatholic.org, or contact Lauren Garcia at lgarcia@necatholic.org or 402-477-7517.

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.

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