By Tom Venzor
As Catholics, we have the duty to be informed, stay engaged, and make our voices heard in politics. While this is a formidable task, our Lord provides the grace-filled opportunities we need to be salt and light for our political society as we seek to build the common good. As I have frequently quoted Pope Francis: “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’” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 183).
One such opportunity is Catholics at the Capitol which takes place Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln. The event begins with free registration at 8 a.m.—coffee and rolls will be served. Prayer begins at 8:30 a.m. led by Bishop James Conley.
The formal program begins at 9 a.m. with educational and keynote speakers. At 10:30 a.m. we will make our way to the State Capitol to see the legislature in action and take time to discuss important issues with our state senators. There will be an optional lunch at 12:15 p.m. that will feature several senators. The lunch event is free of charge, but we request attendees to RSVP at necatholic.org to ensure that enough lunches are available.
We hope that Catholics at the Capitol will inform and equip, as well as inspire Catholics of Nebraska to take action with some of the political issues that matter most to us.
Bishop Conley, beginning the day with the opening prayer, will prepare us spiritually for our day’s activities. To start the day’s program, Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, will address our fundamental call and spiritual duty to be faithful citizens.
Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) staff will then provide legislative updates. Michael McHale (general counsel/policy analyst) will discuss important issues about education choice. Marion Miner (associate director for pro-life and family) will highlight critical issues regarding the dignity of human life, especially of the unborn and those approaching end-of-life. I will speak on other issues, such as religious liberty and immigration.
Lauren Garcia (communications/outreach specialist) will share how the NCC can assist you in being of maximum service to your communities, especially your parish community.
Our keynote presenters will be Governor Pete Ricketts and Father Justin Fulton. Gov. Ricketts will address his call to live as a faithful citizen in his role in the political sphere. Gov. Ricketts will share how he is working to make government work for the people of Nebraska, especially those receiving critical government services. He will also share practical wisdom in working to advance the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Gospel.
Father Fulton will discuss the critical need to engage your parish community on political issues. While it may not always be easy to breach political matters, all of us are called to find ways to pursue the common good in our local parish communities.
Following these presentations, we will then venture to the State Capitol to watch the State Legislature in action. Attendees will meet with state senators and express gratitude for their public service, while also making their voices and concerns heard.
The morning will conclude with lunch. Several state senators will join us and discuss various issues of concern to Catholics and the common good. Again, we ask that you RSVP to ensure we have a lunch prepared for you.
Even if you are now just hearing about Catholics at the Capitol, please consider attending—and inviting family, friends, and fellow parishioners. This event gives us—as Catholics—a moment to stand in solidarity with one another and to be informed and equipped to make a change.
Christ has called us to be His hands and feet, to enter more deeply into His mission and bring liberty to the captive, freedom to the oppressed, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked. Catholics at the Capitol provides just that opportunity as we seek to establish justice and peace on earth.