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Prayer efforts target election, voters

Candidates, political parties, political action committees and organizations flooded television, radio, newspapers and social media with advertising the past two weeks in the run-up to the Nov. 8 General Election.

But they weren’t the only ones trying to make their voices heard. Nebraska Catholics were busy, too, flooding the heavens with prayers for strength, guidance and wisdom for voters casting their ballots in the election.

Those efforts included a suggestion by one member of the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (CANN), a grassroots group organized through the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), that prompted the development of an election novena that began Oct. 30.

Ton Venzor, NCC executive director, said the suggestion was made to emphasize the importance of prayer in the election and motivate people to get involved.

Venzor created the novena, with each day focusing on one of the issues in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) document on voting – "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship."

In addition to distributing the novena through CANN, Venzor said it’s being posted on the NCC Facebook page.

The Knights of Columbus also offered an

election novena available at many parishes and through the Knights website – The prayer is addressed to the Holy Trinity through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, under her title of the Immaculate Conception.

The prayer efforts also extend to the local level. Parishes across the archdiocese included the election process in petitions much of the year. And at least one parish – St. Rose of Lima in Crofton – is bringing a particular focus to the prayer efforts, scheduling a day of adoration from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Election Day.



The prayer initiative isn’t the only focus of election attention at the NCC office in Lincoln. Working with the Catholic Mobilizing Network, the NCC is taking its message to end the death penalty in Nebraska to social media.

That effort, which began Oct. 31, includes a video "that articulates the teaching of the church and the position of Nebraska bishops" on the death penalty, Venzor told the Catholic Voice.

Venzor and the Catholic Mobilizing Network took a more personal approach in sharing the message through three meetings the last week of October. Programs in Omaha, Grand Island and Lincoln featured talks by a man found innocent after serving 20 years on Ohio’s death row and the mother of a girl kidnapped and murdered more than 40 years ago.

"We were very pleased with the turnout," Venzor said. "We had a large number at each event; they were attentive and asked thought-provoking questions.

The speakers provided "powerful testimonies and a catechesis of mercy," he said, and also highlighted the documented defects of the current system.

Those meetings also provided another opportunity to discuss the somewhat confusing ballot language on the issue – Referendum 426. A vote to "retain" will eliminate the death penalty and change the maximum penalty for murder to life imprisonment without parole.

That vote affirms LB268, approved by the Nebraska Legislature in 2015 over the veto of Gov. Pete Ricketts and the target of the petition drive producing Referendum 426.

A vote to "repeal" will keep the death penalty as a possible penalty for murder by repealing LB268.

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