NCC Capitol event great opportunity to get involved

Now it’s your turn. In January, this column cited the importance – even the necessity – of church leaders speaking out on government policy issues.

Referring to the start of the legislative session in Nebraska, the role of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) – representing Nebraska’s three bishops – also was highlighted.

But the church leaders can’t stand alone. Catholics in the pews across the archdiocese need to be informed about what government is doing and make their voices heard … at the school board, city council or village board, county board, the Legislature and Congress.

The press provides the basic information and serves in a watchdog role for the people, but individuals are responsible for learning about the issues and sharing their views with government leaders.

In addition to representing the public policy interests of the bishops – of the church – the NCC also serves as a source for Catholics seeking the church’s perspective on a variety of issues.

And on March 21, NCC staff members are offering the third Catholics at the Capitol program to bring state government to the people and to bring the people to state government.

In a half-day program, Tom Venzor, NCC executive director, and other staff members will provide updates on legislation being considered, and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and former state Sen. Tony Fulton will talk about the role Catholics can play in government.

Participants also will have the opportunity to meet with state senators.

The program, held across the street from the Capitol in St. Mary Church, provides the perfect mix of education and experience to better connect Catholics to the legislative process. Last year, the program had about 100 participants.

That was a good turnout. But our responsibility as citizens and as Catholics demands more.



• About a year ago Charlene Shambare, a member of St. Cecilia Parish, and Cort Irish, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, both in Omaha, were nearing the end of their journey through RCIA – the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. They were coming into full communion with the church.

But the Easter Vigil and the sessions in the weeks following weren’t the end. Shambare and Irish are back this year, not for more preparation, but as sponsors for others … sharing their faith walk with them. Senior Writer Mike May tells their stories of evangelization –great examples for all – on Page 14.

• On Page 6, News Editor Joe Ruff shares a unique story of success related to the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl program. The annual effort of Lenten almsgiving is perhaps familiar to all. But Ruff’s story on the Rice Bowl program at three rural parishes – three small rural parishes – might change familiarity to interest.

The parishes – St. Peter de Alcántara in Ewing, St. Theresa of Avila in Clearwater and St. John the Baptist in rural Holt County – have been the top Rice Bowl program participants in the archdiocese for several years. With just more than 600 parishioners combined, the parishes set a standard others might try to match.

• The Catholic Professional & Business Club of Omaha March 9 will announce the winners of the 2017 Leading With Faith Awards.

This award, which seems obvious by its name, isn’t about financial donations or terms on boards or leading campaigns or even volunteering. Instead it honors people who live their faith in the workplace, in how they work with, serve and lead others at the office, on the job site or in the plant.

That seems to be a simple concept … an area of excellence that’s often overlooked, but one that deserves our attention.

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