Pro-life banquet to celebrate NCC’s 50 years

In 1969, the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) was formed. According to one historical account, it entered the public policy scene “with a yawn.”

At the time, it was unclear what a Catholic Conference was, what it was intended to accomplish, who its leadership would be, and what, if any, influence it would ultimately have on policy and politics in Nebraska. Fifty years later, experience has proven that the NCC is an influential, professional and faithful organization committed to the common good, not just for Catholics but for all of society.

Whether the task has been advancing marriage and family, advocating for the poor and vulnerable, protecting unborn life and caring for pregnant and new mothers, defending religious liberty, promoting the public good of Catholic education, or any number of other initiatives, the NCC has been bearing the light of Christ in the public square. This has been due to the visionary leadership of Nebraska’s bishops, the previous executive directors and staff of the NCC, and the thousands upon thousands of Catholic advocates who have carried out their Christian responsibility to transform the public square.

In honor of this history and the years ahead, this year’s pro-life banquet and conference is themed “Abound in Hope: The Next 50 Years.” The event will provide a moment to gather in friendship as brothers and sisters in Christ to honor and celebrate the work of the NCC, especially our work related to building a culture of life and a civilization of love.

The banquet and conference will be held Sept. 20-21 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln. The banquet will take place on Friday evening, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail hour (cash bar) and a 6:30 p.m. dinner and program. It will be an opportunity to join our Nebraska bishops – active and retired – in a delightful evening, reminiscing about the various social, cultural and political achievements of the NCC over the last 50 years. To take us on this journey will be Greg Schleppenbach, a 25-year veteran of the NCC and former pro-life director and executive director. Greg now serves our country’s bishops as the associate director for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The following day will be our annual educational conference. The conference begins with Mass at 8 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church (across the street from the State Capitol). Educational programming begins at 9 a.m. and will conclude by 4 p.m., with lunch included. This will take place at the Cornhusker Marriott’s lower level conference room. The day’s talks will focus on the theme of hope for the future of the pro-life movement.

We will discuss “Hope in Healthcare: New and Better Options for Women,” which will explore new horizons in holistic medical care for pregnant mothers.

We will look at the various ways public policy can provide critical safety nets for families in need, in a talk entitled “Hope in the Public Square: Legislation, Public Assistance Programs and Catholic Social Teaching.”

We will also discover innovative ways and frameworks for meeting the needs of mothers in our own communities by focusing on unique and impactful ways we can extend our personal charity.

In “Hope After Abortion: Evangelizing Those Suffering from Past Abortion” we will learn about the tools we can implement to identify those who are personally struggling with the emotional, spiritual and physical effects of abortion, and discern how we can accompany those who suffer to provide healing and hope for the future.
We will end the day with two important panel discussions. First, we will take time to hear from our Protestant brothers and sisters about how we can engage in more meaningful partnerships and be united in the shared mission to build a culture of life.

Second, we will discuss “Pro-Life Advocacy and Messaging in a Politically Extreme World,” which will tackle some of the fundamental problems we face as a nation and how to overcome these divisions through effective pro-life advocacy.

The banquet and conference will not disappoint, and will undoubtedly be a great moment for solidarity, celebration and renewal. I can’t wait to see you there (and don’t forget to bring a half dozen of your closest friends and family). To register go to or call our office at 402-477-7517. As they say: “Be there or be square!”

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

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