LINCOLN (SNR/NCC) – Catholics at the Capitol, a legislative day hosted March 21 by the Nebraska Catholic Conference, drew more than 150 Catholics from across the state with more than 25 legislative districts represented.
The keynote speakers were Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Grand Island, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and former Sen. Tony Fulton.
Bishop Hanefeldt welcomed and addressed the crowd about the spiritual importance of faithful citizenship.
“Our culture today wants us to put our light under a bushel basket, at best,” said Hanefeldt. “But our obligation is to stand up for what is good and true and right.”
After legislative updates from members of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and former Sen. Tony Fulton urged the group to get actively involved in state politics. Foley and Fulton provided practical tips on how to talk to their senators and how to stand out amongst other constituents.
“Don’t be afraid to engage your government and senators,” encouraged Fulton. “They are just people like you and me.”
Participants had the chance to put the advice of Foley and Fulton into practice when they headed to the capitol building to meet with their state senators. The crowd was recognized in the legislative chamber, then led down to meet with present senators.
The Nebraska Catholic Conference invited Catholics through email, social media and on KVSS, Spirit Catholic Radio. Advertising in parish bulletins and word of mouth invitation seemed to be the most effective in bringing more people than in past years.
Fred Bierma, who traveled to Lincoln from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Omaha, saw an opportunity to speak out for what he believes.
“With everything going on in the news, I’m always yelling at the television, and my wife finally asked me what I was going to do about it,” said Bierma. “I heard about this a couple of days later and felt I needed to see what it was about.”
Although Bierma said he sees himself as more of a “behind the scenes kind of guy,” he enjoyed speaking with his senator, Joni Craighead, about issues important to him and his family.
The day ended with Mass at St. Mary Church in downtown Lincoln.
Nebraska Catholics wanting to get involved in state policy are encouraged to join NCC’s Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (CANN) at necatholic.org, follow the NCC on Facebook and Twitter, and attend NCC events, such as Catholics at the Capitol next year.
The Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) is a statewide association operated jointly by the Archdiocese of Omaha, Diocese of Grand Island, and Diocese of Lincoln. Located in Lincoln, the NCC represents the public policy interests of Nebraska’s three Roman Catholic bishops before the Nebraska legislature, the Nebraska delegation in Congress, and state agencies.
The public policy issues addressed by the NCC include institutional concerns of the Catholic Church as well as issues related to Catholic moral and social teaching, human dignity, and the common good.