Maryland Catholic Conference
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    Back to school, environment and opposing assisted suicide

    Back to School

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    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 rentrelief.maryland.gov 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

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    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

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    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].

    STATE UPDATES

    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.

    FEDERAL NEWS

    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 BISHOP KOENIG

    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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    Inside look at new Catholic school and more

    Sneak Peek at Mother Mary Lange Catholic School

    Wall art from Mother Mary Lange Catholic School

    Image is wall art from Mother Mary Lange Catholic School

    “It is a dream come true.”

    In just a few words, Jim Sellinger, chancellor of education for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, summed up what the new Mother Mary Lange Catholic School, an impressive 65,000-square-foot facility opening in Baltimore City this fall, means to families, the archdiocese and Archbishop William E. Lori.

    A tour of the school on Monday gave State Senator Antonio Hayes and State Delegate Marlon Amprey, who represent District 40 where the new school is located, a chance to see the building as the finishing touches are being put in place. Senator Hayes noted he has a “sense of pride” seeing the investment in education in his district by the archdiocese and by the city’s public schools.

    Strong enrollment – and an early-learning wait list

    Mr. Sellinger told the legislators and others visiting the school that 370 students have been enrolled in the Pre-K-grade 8 school and at least 85 percent are receiving scholarships. Another 130 children are in the application process.

    With an early learning center open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. and a convenient location on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue directly across from the University of Maryland Medical Center and other major employers, the school is drawing families not only from the immediate neighborhood, but from other parts of the city and surrounding counties, as well as two former Catholic schools, Holy Angels and Ss. James and John, which merged into the new school. Nearly 100 children are on a wait list for the early learning center.

    In addition to a traditional library, Mother Mary Lange School offers a TV studio, state-of-the art science lab, robotics lab, art and music rooms, two playground areas, turf field and a fully equipped health center. The third-floor chapel is centrally placed and will welcome students and faculty for prayer and Mass. The science labs provide a different kind of inspiration: their windows face the medical school and hospital, School of Pharmacy and other city businesses, providing inspiration for futures in medicine, business and science. The school also plans to develop partnerships with these entities.

    Partnerships critical to serving students

    Partnerships, from scholarships to health care, technical assistance and mentoring, have been critical in building the school and will be an important part of supporting the students going forward.

    In partnership with Dan Joerres, president and general manager of WBAL-TV, MML school will launch the collaboration studio for video. Students taking robotics will benefit from mentoring by older students from Archbishop Spalding High School, which has a nationally ranked robotics team, and will have the opportunity to join the archdiocesan Catholic Robotics League.

    With access to quality health care a concern for low-income families, the archdiocese has turned to UMD’s Children’s Hospital in a partnership that will provide wrap-around services and access to nearby experts in pediatrics. The school will have a full-time nurse on staff.

    The blessing and ribbon cutting for Mother Mary Lange Catholic School is August 6, 2021.

    The school is named after the Haitian immigrant who, in 1820’s Baltimore, started a Catholic school for children of color and founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Now a Servant of God in the process to be canonized a saint, Mother Mary attended Mass and took her vows as a woman religious just a half-mile from her namesake school, at what is now the St. Mary’s Spiritual Center and Historic Site.


    Remembering our fathers

    Fathers Day spiritual bouquet in Maryland

    Pope Francis declared this the Year of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers. Why not offer our fathers – living and deceased – a spiritual bouquet, entrusting them to the intercession of St. Joseph? Directions for making your spiritual bouquet are online, or download a flyer here (English and Spanish). This is a great activity for families.


    Religious Freedom Week is June 22-29

    religious freedom week logo

    The theme of this year’s Religious Freedom Week is Solidarity in Freedom. The week, held annually starting on June 22, the feast of St. Thomas More, provides an opportunity to pray, reflect and act to promote religious freedom locally and globally.

    Catholics across the US will pray for a special intention each day – adoption and foster care, church vandalism, Christians in Iraq, free speech, etc. Get the prayers, lectionary notes, social media graphics and more here in English and Spanish.


    Juneteenth

    Juneteenth observance in Maryland

    This Saturday marks Juneteenth, a day to mark the end of legalized slavery in the United States. On this day in 1865, word of emancipation and the end of the Civil War reached enslaved people in Texas, more than 2.5 years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

    A bill was introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates this past session to make Juneteenth a legal and state employee holiday, but it did not pass out of the Senate and so was not enacted.

    Gathering with family is an important part of the observance. This strawberry cornbread skillet cobbler was created to honor Juneteenth (the color red represents the perseverance of the enslaved). As we reflect upon our nation’s tragic history of slavery, may we also pray for the end of division and racism, and for respect for the dignity and freedom of all people.


    Of Note 

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

    Baltimore is top Catholic city in America: Our Sunday Visitor published a top 10 of Catholic cities to visit in America. Baltimore (plus the region from Washington, DC, to Delaware) came in number 1. How many of the region’s historic and spiritual sites have you visited?

    Baltimore City’s first perpetual adoration chapel opens: The first perpetual adoration chapel in the history of Baltimore City was blessed at the historic Baltimore Basilica as the “nation’s first cathedral” marked its 200th anniversary.

    Maryland Catholic Conference Director appointed to racial justice council: Jenny Kraska, executive director for the Maryland Catholic Conference, has been appointed to the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Journey to Racial Justice Coordinating Council, a group composed primarily of senior level staff to support implementation of recommendations to promote racial justice as part of our missionary discipleship.

    Dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass lifted: The Archdiocese of Washington, Diocese of Wilmington and Archdiocese of Baltimore, along with other nearby dioceses, have announced that the obligation for Catholics to attend Sunday Mass in person is back in place as of June 26 and 27. A dispensation had been given during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Catholic entities in Maryland receive safety grants: A number of Catholic parishes and schools, including Mount St. Mary’s University, were among the faith-based organizations awarded grants through the $3 million State of Maryland “Protecting against Hate Crimes” Program. The funds may be used to address security needs, such as equipment, software or physical security improvements.  Learn more or apply for next year’s program here.

    Updated immigration policies will assist religious workers, process for citizenship: Policy changes by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will allow expedited processing of applications that are expected to benefit religious workers in the U.S. for ministry. The CIS also is extending employment authorization documents (EADs) for certain applicants working toward permanent residency from one to two years. This will allow priests, sisters and brothers to continue working in the U.S. while their application is in process.

    Finally, please pray  for the priests and deacons being ordained for Maryland this summer including this Saturday in the Archdiocese of Washington, and pray for our nation’s bishops as they gather virtually this week for their spring General Assembly. Afternoon sessions will be livestreamed. Learn more here

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    BOOST & MD 529 Match Deadlines and More


    In this issue: New bishop, BOOST and Maryland 529 Match deadlines in May, and Foster Care Month

     

    New Bishop for Wilmington

    Pope Francis appointed a new Bishop of Wilmington last week to succeed Bishop W. Francis Malooly, who has led the diocese since 2008. A priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, Bishop-elect William Koenig has been rector of the cathedral and vicar for clergy in that diocese.

    He has worked in parish ministry, vocations, and pastoral work with seminarians and clergy throughout his priesthood.

    “The Maryland Catholic Conference welcomes the appointment of Bishop-elect Koenig, who brings deep pastoral experience to Wilmington. We look forward to working with him as a member of our Board of Governors in our advocacy in the areas of economic and social justice, Catholic education and respect for life,” said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Conference.

    She added, “I want to thank Bishop Malooly for his leadership, kindness and support of the Maryland Catholic Conference. For the past 21 years he has shared his wisdom, insight and experience as a member of our Board of Governors. He will be greatly missed.”

    His episcopal ordination and Mass of Installation will be held in Wilmington on July 13. Bishop Malooly will serve as the apostolic administrator until that time.


    Maryland 529 Plans for K-12 Tuition

    You may be familiar with 529 savings plans that offer federal and state tax incentives for college tuition, but did you know that Maryland 529 plans also can be used to pay up to $10,000 annually in Catholic school tuition? And that Maryland will match up to $500 in contributions to a 529 plan through the State Contribution Program?

    The Maryland Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer College Investment Plan (MCIP), one of the state's 529 investment plans, can be used both for college tuition and for K–12 educational expenses, including tuition. In addition to federal tax benefits, Maryland taxpayers who contribute to an MCIP may be able to receive up to $2,500 in deductions off of their state adjusted gross income per beneficiary (so up to $5,000 if you set up 529 plans for two children, etc.).

    Learn more about the 529 program at the Maryland 529 website and download and share the flyer.

    Grandparents, godparents, friends and family can contribute to your child’s 529 and get tax benefits. Contributions can be as low as $25.

    Get a state $500 contribution match through May 31. The State of Maryland matches up to $500 through the 529 Match Program. Account holders must apply annually to receive the match and the beneficiary must be a Maryland resident. The account holder’s Maryland taxable income cannot exceed $112,500 as an individual or $175,000 as a married couple filing jointly (based on the previous taxable year). The deadline to apply for this year’s State Contribution Program is May 31, 2021.

    Note: Nothing herein constitutes tax advice. You should consult a tax professional for more information.


    BOOST Scholarship Deadline is May 17

    The deadline to apply for a state BOOST scholarship is coming up fast. Applications must be received by May 17. Scholarship funding for the fall academic year is 40 percent higher than the current year, thanks to the Maryland General Assembly approving the full $10 million that Governor Larry Hogan put in the state budget.

    Scholarships are income-based and applicants must have filed their 2020 federal income tax return or submit alternative documentation of income, if eligible to do so.

    Please encourage low-income families in your parish, family or neighborhood who might be interested to apply. Learn more and get a link to the state application (in English and Spanish) at www.marylandboost.org.


    May is National Foster Care Month

    More than 4,000 children in Maryland are in foster care. Many are survivors of abuse or neglect from their family of origin. When youth age out of foster care without a family, they are at increased risk of homelessness and 60 percent of trafficked youth come from the foster care system.

    Consider becoming a foster parent to provide these vulnerable children a stable, loving home or volunteer to help struggling families be able to stay together in a healthy way through programs such as Building Safe Families for Children.

    Check your diocesan news site soon for a column about foster care by Molly Sheahan, associate director for respect life advocacy and download English and Spanish resources, including intercessions and a blessing for those involved in foster care, plus bulletin announcements.


    Of Note 

    COVID Vaccines: All Marylanders, age 16 and older, are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. New sites have been added around the state and getting an appointment is easier than ever. Visit the Maryland COVID Link website to find locations near you, schedule an appointment at a mass vaccination site, get answers to common questions and more.

    Tax Deadline: Federal tax returns for 2020 must be filed by May 17, 2021 and Maryland tax returns by July 15, 2021.

    Join the Marathon of Prayer this May: In this month of Mary, Pope Francis has invited shrines around the world to pray the rosary daily, at 6 p.m. Rome time (12 noon here), in a “marathon” of prayer for an end to the pandemic and the ability to return to a regular life. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, will lead the rosary on May 17. See the daily intentions and shrines here and the liturgical guide to join in this international prayer effort.

    Year of the Eucharist: Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori has called for a Year of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Read his pastoral letter and explore the many resources to help “connect with the Lord and experience his never-ending light.”

    Laudato Si’ Week: Laudato Si’ Week 2021 will be celebrated May 16-24. Learn more about daily observances at the Laudato Si’ Week website and consider using the discussion guide from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to reflect upon this encyclical and our call to care for creation.

    Celebrating Mother’s Day times five: As we wish all mothers a blessed Mother’s Day, we share this heartwarming story of the Eze family, who just had quintuplets – yes, five babies – baptized at St. Matthias in Lanham. The little ones also have a big sister. The babies were born at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, which has the state’s largest neonatal intensive care unit and delivers more babies than any other hospital in the state. Read the story in the Catholic Standard.  

    Finally, please keep in your prayers our school graduates and the new priests who will be ordained in May and June here in Maryland.


    JOIN THE CATHOLIC ADVOCACY NETWORK

    The Catholic Advocacy Network gives you a voice on important issues in Maryland. Learn more and join our network.

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