By S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - All Catholics in the state are encouraged to attend Catholics at the Capitol, an opportunity for education and interaction with state senators scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, at St. Mary Parish in Lincoln. The church is directly across the street from the State Capitol at 14th and K streets in Lincoln.
“This is a new twist on an old event,” said Greg Schleppenbach, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC).
For many years, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women held a “Legislative Day.” Women would hear talks about various bills in process at the Unicameral and meet with state senators.
Now the event has been expanded to include all Catholics (and other Christians) who want to support ethical and moral public policy. In addition to the Diocesan Councils of Catholic Women, Catholics at the Capitol is now sponsored by NCC, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and the Knights of Columbus.
“This is an opportunity to learn about specific issues of concern to the Church in Nebraska,” Schleppenbach said. “It’s also a chance to learn more about the role of the Nebraska Catholic Conference and its work in representing the Church on public policy.”
The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast. At 9 a.m., Omaha Archbishop George J. Lucas will open the conference. Bishop James D. Conley will follow, speaking on, “Living our Faith in the Public Square.”
The morning will progress with more speakers. Mr. Schleppenbach will review key legislation currently up for deliberation in the Unicameral.
“There are pro-life bills, sexual orientation bills, the death penalty…” Schleppenbach said as he reviewed a sheaf of papers detailing the legislation his office monitors.
Sheri Rickert, NCC policy director and general counsel, will review Supreme Court challenges to banning same-sex “marriage.” She will also discuss school choice issues. Omar Gutierrez, special assistant to Archbishop Lucas, will talk about various issues related to immigration.
One of the highlights of the conference comes at 11 a.m.
“Catholics at the Capitol is not only an opportunity to educate Catholics, but also to have a presence at the Capitol,” said Schleppenbach.
At that time, conference attendees will cross the street to visit the capitol. Senators will be notified in advance, and many attendees will have the opportunity to speak with the legislators who represent their districts. Others can observe senators in action during a legislative session.
Following the State Capitol visit, attendees will return for Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A Rosary at Lincoln’s Planned Parenthood clinic across town will close out the day.
Catholics who are unable to attend Catholics at the Capitol are encouraged to join Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (CANN), the NCC’s new grassroots effort to make it easier for “average-Joe” Catholics to learn about and influence public policy. Visit NECatholic.org and click on the button in the upper right corner to join CANN. There are no fees to pay, and your privacy will be strictly protected.