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    Special session, hunger awareness, Black Catholic History Month - and the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree



    Nov. 15, 2021 | Annapolis, MD

    The U.S. bishops are meeting in Baltimore this week. Please keep them in prayer.
    You can follow along here.

    Redistricting on the Table in Special Session


    Maryland’s lawmakers have indicated they are planning to hold a special session starting Dec. 6 to discuss legislative redistricting.

    Redistricting of state and congressional districts is required by the constitutions of both the United States and Maryland following the U.S. census taken every ten years. Maryland has eight congressional districts and 47 state legislative districts.

    Both the governor and the General Assembly develop their own redistricting maps, and typically release proposals prior to the General Assembly’s regular session, which this winter will begin on Jan. 12, 2022.

    The governor’s plan is formally introduced on the first day of the session. If the General Assembly passes a state redistricting plan within the following 45 days, its plan goes into effect, with no veto possibility. Otherwise, the governor’s plan goes into effect. Congressional redistricting is a little different because the governor can veto the General Assembly’s maps.

    “While we don’t take a position on redistricting, we will be watching this closely,” said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. “We also anticipate legislators may decide to take up possible veto overrides of legislation passed in 2021 that subsequently was vetoed by the governor.”

    Some redistricting proposals already available 

    Redistricting is complex and can be very political. Both Governor Hogan and the leaders of the General Assembly have undertaken consultation processes already.  

    Governor Hogan appointed the members on the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, which developed recommended maps that are online, along with information on the process. The Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have released proposed congressional district concepts developed by the Maryland General Assembly Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission whose members they appoint.

    Maryland Matters website has coverage of both proposals: Governor’s Citizens Commission maps and congressional conceptual maps released by General Assembly leaders for public input.

    Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week


    The Maryland Catholic Conference advocates for policies aimed at eliminating homelessness and food insecurity for families and individuals across our state. In observance of National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week (through Nov. 21), consider donating a little extra to your local parish food bank or Catholic Charities, which provides housing and food support, and sign up for our Catholic Advocacy Network to ensure you get action alerts related to poverty and hunger during the upcoming legislative session. 

    Pray for Dobbs: National Online Prayer


    Abortion takes the lives of over 600,000 unborn babies every year in the United States. The upcoming Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the greatest opportunity in a generation to change that. This is the case that could overturn Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states.

    You are invited to join this online gathering of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians praying together for a just outcome that protects millions of unborn babies and their mothers, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m. Register here.

    Black Catholic History Month


    November is Black Catholic History Month and parishioners are invited to celebrate the gifts of Black Catholics. Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell will celebrate Mass in the Archdiocese of Washington on Nov. 20 at Nativity parish in Washington, DC. The Archdiocese of Baltimore has a large number of resources online, as does the Baltimore-based National Black Catholic Congress.

    Get Involved with the Synod Locally


    Dioceses worldwide are participating in a listening process for the upcoming Synod, rooted in prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. “For a synodal Church: communion, participation, mission” is an invitation by Pope Francis for “the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission.” Learn more about how your (arch)diocese is involved:

    Of Note 

    Congratulations to Ogechi Akalegbere, parishioner of St. Rose of Lima in Gaithersburg, who has just received the national 2021 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).

    Rockefeller Christmas tree from Maryland Catholic family: The iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City this year will be a Norway spruce from the lawn of Julie and Devon Price, parishioners at Immaculate Conception in Elkton. This is the first time that the tree has come from Maryland.

    The Dialog, the Wilmington diocesan news outlet, was there when the tree was cut down and has full coverage, including a video (shown here). NBC’s Today Show covered its arrival in New York. The tree lighting is Dec. 1.

    Want to know more about the tradition? The first Rockefeller Christmas tree was bought and put up by workers in 1931.

    Plenary indulgence: The Vatican  extended the opportunity for a plenary indulgence for the entire month of November for those visiting a cemetery on eight days during the month.

    Looking forward to a Thanksgiving at home? Why not try one of these traditional Maryland recipes!

    And finally, a Thanksgiving Day prayer:

    Lord, we thank you
    for the goodness of our people
    and for the spirit of justice
    that fills this nation.
    We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the
    land and the challenge of the cities.

    We thank you for our work and our rest,
    for one another, and for our homes.
    We thank you, Lord:
    accept our thanksgiving on this day.
    We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.



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    New Maryland laws, Respect Life Month, and a new high school blessed

    In this issue:

    New Maryland laws go into effect, live webinars for Respect Life Month on physician-assisted suicide (English and Spanish), Synod Opening Mases, and a new Catholic high school opening this month

    New Maryland Laws in Effect on Oct. 1


    Hundreds of new laws passed by the General Assembly earlier this year went into effect on Oct. 1. A number address needs of low-income Marylanders, veterans, immigrants, and the incarcerated. Parents will benefit from expanded prenatal care for healthy pregnancies and the addition of changing facilities in public buildings. Other bills will help protect Maryland’s environment.

    Among the new laws are a number supported by the Maryland Catholic Conference:

    • Prevent sentencing minors to life without the possibility of parole and allow a review of sentencing after 20 years (SB 494)
    • Increase the time of educational programming for inmates who have not received a high school diploma or GED (SB 86)
    • Streamline the administration of address confidentiality programs to protect victims of domestic violence and human trafficking (SB 109)
    • Coordinate mental health services for veterans and immediate family members (HB 605/SB164)
    • Require changing facilities (for diaper changing and personal care for adults) in public buildings (HB 321/SB 61)
    • Establish pilot program providing mobile laundry services for homeless persons (HB 189)
    • Expand data collection for foster youth, including education and financial support, and conduct research regarding child welfare programs (HB 854)
    • Add categories for information gathering, the results of which will help inform policies of the State child welfare system (HB 258/SB 592)
    • Offer diminution credits for inmates who achieve certain educational milestones (HB 89)
    • Increase funding for and provider access to the Maryland Prenatal and Infant Care Grant Program to help ensure a healthy pregnancy for mother and child (SB 777/HB 1349)
    • Establish the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program to address and combat student hunger and basic food necessities (HB 891/SB 767)
    • Adjust membership and selection of members of the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities (HB 1207/SB 674)
    • Remove mill residue from eligibility as a qualifying biomass in the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio (SB 65)
    • Establish a Governor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (HB 15/SB 85)
    • Establish an Access to Counsel in Evictions Program and other support for tenants at risk of eviction (HB 18)


    The 2022 General Assembly legislative session begins Jan. 13, 2022.

    Respect Life Month:
    Stopping Physician-Assisted Suicide and More

    respect life month 2021

    We hope you can join our experts online today, Oct. 5 (English) and Oct. 14 (Spanish) as they discuss physician-assisted suicide and how to stop it from coming to Maryland, and join in upholding human life during Respect Life Month with these resources.

    Prayer. Download the prayer card to St. Joseph (English and Spanish)

    Physician-assisted suicide webinars. Join our Facebook Live event today, Oct. 5, 7-8 p.m. Medical and disabilities rights experts will discuss Deadly, Not Dignified: Fighting Physician-Assisted Suicide in Maryland, and, el 14 de octubre, de 7 a 8 p.m., únase con Obispo Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR, y Dra. Grazie Pozo Christie. More resources are online here.

    Pro-life intercessions and bulletin announcements

    Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Pray, raise awareness and act to end domestic violence

    Mental Illness Awareness Week. The Archdiocese of Baltimore has compiled helpful resources on mental health and Saint Luke Institute has free online resources on stress and trauma, plus support for lay ministers.

    Footprints Ministry. The Diocese of Wilmington is starting a ministry for families who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death.

    World Synod Process Kicks-Off

    synod 2021-2023

    The Vatican will formally open a worldwide consultation process next weekend, Oct. 9-10, in preparation for the 2023 Synod of Bishops. “For a synodal Church: communion, participation, mission” is an invitation by Pope Francis for “the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission.”

    Dioceses worldwide will undertake a listening process that is rooted in prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. Local opening Masses for the Synod process: 

    • Archdiocese of Baltimore: Oct. 17, 11 a.m., Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., Baltimore
    • Archdiocese of Washington, Oct. 17, 7 p.m., Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1726 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC
    • Diocese of Wilmington: Oct. 17, 9:30 a.m., Cathedral of Saint Peter, Sixth and N. West Sts., Wilmington


    Learn more about the upcoming Synod process:

    Bishop Koenig to Bless New Catholic High School

    Most Reverend William Koenig, Bishop of Wilmington, will bless the new Ss. Peter and Paul High School in Easton, Md., during a dedication and blessing on Oct. 29, as well as a new family life center and columbarium. The 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art high school is four times the size of the old school and includes 20 classrooms, a chapel, fine arts space, and an auditorium. The school’s 160 students started classes in their new school on Sept. 7. Learn more about Ss. Peter and Paul High School in The Dialog.

    Of Note 

    Red Mass in the Archdiocese of Washington: Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, was principal celebrant of the Red Mass sponsored by the John Carroll Society and held the Sunday prior to the opening of the Supreme Court session. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer to the United Nations for the Holy See, was the homilist. The Catholic Standard covered the Mass.

    Yesterday was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment and animals. The Archdiocese of Washington has lots of great tips on how individuals, parishes and families can care for creation. This week also marks the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis signing the encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, in Assisi.

    Hispanic Heritage Month continues through Oct. 15. Read about celebrations in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and enjoy this recipe for pupusas (courtesy of Catholic Relief Services).

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    Back to school, environment and opposing assisted suicide

    Back to School

    A student and sisters from the Oblate Sisters of Providence following the dedication ceremony for Mother Mary Lange Catholic School.

    Families received notification about BOOST scholarship awards from the State of Maryland earlier this month. The 40 percent increase in BOOST funding passed by the General Assembly during last winter’s session is having a big impact for low-income families.

    Students in elementary schools are receiving slightly larger awards while those attending high schools, where tuition tends to be higher, are receiving a $3,000 scholarship on top of the regular award.

    The Archdiocese of Baltimore is celebrating the opening of Mother Mary Lange Catholic School (District 40), which is welcoming more than 400 students. Many of them rely on BOOST scholarships. Incoming students joined Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, school leaders, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, State Senator Antonio Hayes and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott for a dedication and blessing earlier this month. Read more in the Catholic Review.

    The Jesuit USA East Province and St. Ignatius parish in Baltimore are expanding an early learning center into The Loyola School, a pre-K to grade four elementary that eventually will offer a free education to 200 low-income Baltimore City children. Grades will be phased in, with kindergarten starting this fall. This school joins other Jesuit schools in Baltimore focused on educating low-income students, including St. Ignatius Loyola Academy for boys in grades 5-8, and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a coeducational school where students also gain work experience.

    With the Delta variant and rising infection rates, our Catholic schools once again are implementing careful protocols for the return to school. Here is the latest from the Archdiocese of Washington, Archdiocese of Baltimore, and Diocese of Wilmington. Please thank our school teachers, staff and administrators for all they are doing for their students.

    New Resource for Catholics on the Environment

    The Archdiocese of Washington has released a comprehensive Laudato Si Action Plan, just in time for the annual Season of Creation that starts on Sept. 1, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and culminates on Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

    The new plan, available in English and Spanish, offers resources and practical tips that individuals, groups, schools and parishes can take to protect our environment.

    In his introductory letter, Cardinal Wilton Gregory notes, “This Action Plan contains small and big ways for us to exercise stewardship over God’s creation. I invite each of you to study this Action Plan and be challenged to protect and restore our fragile Earth and our natural resources.” Read more in the Catholic Standard.

    Deadly, Not Dignified: Fighting Physician-Assisted Suicide in Maryland

    Out-of-state activists are expected to be back for the next state legislative session, trying to force physician-assisted suicide into law in Maryland.

    Learn about the issue, negative effects in other states where this has been legalized, and resources to help fight it here in Maryland.

    Please note: Spanish-language materials are coming soon!

    Emergency Rental Assistance

    The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has launched an Emergency Rental Assistance Data Dashboard. The dashboard tracks the progress local jurisdictions in the state are making in distributing relief funds for tenants and landlords affected by the pandemic.

    The department also has advised tenants and landlords to visit or call 877-546-5595 to connect with rental assistance programs. In addition to local programs, tenants in certain properties may qualify for the department’s Assisted Housing Relief Program. Tenants in that group of properties should contact their property management company for application information.

    Of Note 

    U.S. Bishops Support Pregnant Worker Fairness Act: The chairmen of three committees for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, recently wrote Congress to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, SB 1486. The Act would require reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, protect pregnant workers from being denied employment opportunities and more.

    Action alert on immigration: The USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants initiative is asking Catholics urge their U.S. senators and representative to support the enactment of immigration reform this year. Learn more and sign the alerts.

    Art of Mother Mary Lange: Servant of God Mother Mary Lange not only has a new school named after her, but you will find her legacy reflected in other parts of her adopted home of Maryland. Our Lady of Sorrows parish in Takoma Park commissioned a painting of her to grace the outside of the the community food pantry the parish opened last year. Learn more about this work of this sacred art from the perspective of the Hyattsville-based artist: “We are portraying Christ in that saint and making Christ present in that community.”

    Events of interest

    CANCELLED: Sept. 26: Catholic Coalition for Special Education (CCSE) fall family gathering. Contact 301-933-8844 ext 102 for more information on this and CCSE.

    Oct. 2: Maryland Catholic Women’s Conference, featuring Katie Prejean McGrady as the keynote speaker

    This month’s recipe is in honor of the Maryland State Fair. We chose a zucchini bread recipe that is a past winner at the fair. This year’s fair is Aug. 26-Sept. 6.


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    New Maryland laws, respect life update and a new bishop

    New Laws in Effect July 1

    Image of the State seal from the Miller Senate Office Building

    Hundreds of new laws are on the books in Maryland as of July 1. These include a repeal of the Civil-War-era state song, support for low-income and at-risk students to continue their education; tax credits for diaper donations; crisis support for service members, veterans and their families; expanded funds for legal aid; and more. Additional laws will go into effect later in the year, for a total of 809 resulting from the 2021 legislative session.

    Among the July 1 laws are a number supported by the Maryland Catholic Conference, including:

    • Income tax modification to cover costs of living organ donors (SB 48/HB 10)
    • Establishment of a task force on oral health and availability and access of dental services (SB 100/HB 368)
    • Expansion of higher education tuition exemption for foster care recipients and homeless youth (SB 155)
    • Support access to healthy food in certain areas that are food deserts (SB 365)
    • Include crisis center helpline on higher ed student identification cards (SB 405)
    • Increase distribution of abandoned property funds for the Maryland Legal Services Corporation fund to assist with pro bono legal services (SB 413)
    • Require public schools provide free feminine hygiene products in women’s restrooms (SB 427/HB 205)
    • Provide support to pregnant and parenting students so they may continue their education and care for their new baby (SB 438/HB 401)
    • Expand funding for and availability of tax clinics for low-income Marylanders (SB 480/HB 421)
    • Establish educational programs for juveniles in residential facilities (SB 497)
    • Establish a matching grant program for nonprofits to provide behavioral health services for service members, veterans and their families (SB 550/HB 872)
    • Authorize state grants to increase availability of family childcare providers in areas with above average poverty and unemployment (SB 711/HB 944)
    • Continue a program that promotes college access for low-income Maryland high school students (HB 98)
    • Expand food access to households receiving or eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits (HB 101)
    • Provide a process and safeguards for new school hires during the background check period (HB 373)
    • Tax credit of up to $1,000 for donating diapers, certain hygiene products or funds for the items to qualified charities (HB 711)
    • Provide funding for the Guaranteed Access Grant program and to assist low-income public and nonpublic students in college and career awareness (HB 1245)

    Watch Installation of Wilmington's New Bishop


    Celebrate with the Diocese of Wilmington, which includes the entirety of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as newly appointed Bishop-elect William Koenig is ordained as a bishop (by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori) and also installed as Bishop of Wilmington on July 13, 2 p.m.

    The livestream will start at 1:45 p.m. from St. Elizabeth Church, Wilmington. You can watch on the diocesan YouTube channel, on demand through the Catholic Faith Network (CFN) and on a delayed basis on EWTN (July 15, 3 p.m.). Learn more about Wilmington’s new bishop and this historic moment here.

    State of Life Issues in Maryland

    If you missed our June 8 webinar on the state of life issues in Maryland in 2021, the recording is now available.

    Join Associate Director for Respect Life Advocacy Molly Sheahan with guests, Dr. Michael New and Michelle Williams, as they discuss the latest data, trends and the experience of pregnancy centers during COVID, plus ways you can help those in need. 

    Internship Opportunity: Laudato Si’ Advocates


    Are you of college age and interested in environmental advocacy? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Environmental Justice Program offers a program for college-age individuals that equips them with the skills they need to advocate for legislation that promotes the integral ecology described in the encyclical Laudato Si’.

    The program runs during the academic year. Laudato Si’ advocates earn a monthly stipend, attend a training summit in Washington, D.C., receive monthly formation, and are given instruction in advocacy. Learn more and apply here.

    Of Note 

    NEW! Did you know that the Maryland Catholic Conference provides advocacy, education, speakers and other resources on a range of topics for parishes, deaneries and Catholic groups? Download our new overview, with session highlights and resources, and contact us at [email protected].


    Governor Larry Hogan has announced the launch of a $72 million initiative to reduce maternal mortality and improve health care for mothers and children. Maryland ranks 22nd nationally in maternal mortality, according to the state.

    The initiative is designed to increase access to care and to lower maternal and infant mortality and health complications. Among the components are expanded home visits for high-risk pregnant women and their young children, group prenatal care for low-risk pregnancies, and parenting and healthy development support for families with children up to age 3. Read more in Maryland Matters.

    Maryland State Senator Doug Peters (D-23, Prince George’s County) has announced he is stepping down from office at the end of this month after being appointed to the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents. Senator Peters has been a steadfast advocate for Catholic issues including, but not limited to, support for the poor and vulnerable, environmental advocacy, access to Catholic schools, and the protection of life from conception to natural death.

    State Senator Will Smith (D-20, Montgomery County), in Baltimore on July 2 to observe the 113th anniversary of the birth of Maryland native and Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, announced a portrait of the former Justice is being commissioned and will be placed in the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee Room. 

    The deadline to file your 2020 Maryland state income taxes is July 15.


    The Department of Justice has issued a temporary stay on federal executions. Last December, the Maryland bishops urged a stop to the execution of a Maryland man, though, sadly, the federal execution went forward in January. Maryland has no state death penalty.

    The Respect Life Secretariat of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging Catholics to contact Congress now to maintain the 45-year ban on using taxpayer funds for elective abortion. Learn more and take action here.

    In June, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a number of decisions of interest to Catholics:

    • In Fulton v. Philadelphia, the Court unanimously ruled that the city’s foster care program should not have excluded Catholic Social Services from the program for following Catholic teaching. Read more.
    • The Court dismissed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act in California v. Texas, by a 7-2 decision, noting that states lacked standing to sue over the individual mandate for health care in the ACA.
    • The Court also dismissed Mayorkas v. Innovation Law Lab and ordered the lower court judgment be vacated as moot since the program in question, the Migrant Protection Policy (MPP), had been ended by the Department of Homeland Security on June 1. The USCCB had filed an amicus brief that opposed the MPP. Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville reacted to the decision.
    • In Jones v. Mississippi, the Court ruled that it is constitutional to sentence juveniles to life without parole. Maryland no longer allows life without parole sentencing for juveniles, following passage of bi-partisan state legislation in the 2021 session that was supported by the Maryland Catholic Conference.



    In honor of Wilmington’s incoming bishop, we offer a recipe for peach pie, the official dessert of his new state of Delaware.

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