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    Remembering MLK, Youth Justice Reform & Respect Life

     

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    Jan. 17, 2022 | Annapolis, MD


    Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. 

    As our nation commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reflects on his legacy:

    “…More than a half-century after his death, America faces many challenges — this ongoing pandemic, issues of economic inequality and racial discrimination, violence in our communities, the struggle to welcome immigrants and refugees. In recent years, our nation has also become more polarized and our divisions angrier.

    “As we look to our future, let us continue to draw from Rev. King’s wisdom, especially his commitment to the Beatitudes of Jesus, and the principles of nonviolence and love for our enemies.

    “In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Rev. King reminds us that we are brothers and sisters, part of a beautiful web of relationships of mutual care, each of us depending on others as others depend on us. ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ he wrote. ‘We are … tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’”

    Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell, who also is president of the National Black Catholic Congress and a member of the Maryland Catholic Conference Board of Governors, will celebrate the archdiocese’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Mass on Jan. 22.


    Session Off to a Big Start 

    Nearly 550 bills were introduced in the Senate and in the House of Delegates by the end of day three, and some early hearings on bills have been held.

    The Maryland Catholic Conference submitted testimony on three bills that had hearings last week: tax credits for energy efficient upgrades, property tax credit for disabled veterans, and a tax benefit for Marylanders age 100 or more. Our testimony is posted online.

    Youth Justice Reform

    Our virtual town hall on reform of the youth justice system included a spirited conversation about the need for reform in Maryland. We were grateful to have Senator Jill P. Carter (D-41) and Delegate Sandy Bartlett (D-32) join Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori and our other panelists.

    Del. Bartlett announced the Child Interrogation Protection Act (HB 0269) already had 11 co-sponsors on day 1. The matching bill in the senate, SB 0053, was introduced by Sen. Carter. This bill requires that parents be notified if their child is taken into custody and requires a child have an attorney for consultation prior to interrogation.

    You can watch the town hall here, or click the graphic below. This also would be a great opportunity for classes and parish groups to learn about and discuss youth reform.

    This Week in the General Assembly

    Two big items are on the agenda for this week. The legislature will take up redistricting of state legislative districts (congressional districts were changed in December) and Governor Larry Hogan will present his proposed budget for 2022-23.

    In Maryland, the governor must submit a proposed budget to the state legislature on the third Wednesday of January. The legislature will review the proposal, hold hearings, make adjustments and then vote on a state budget. This is important to our schools and ministries since the budget includes items such as capital improvements to schools, BOOST scholarships for low-income students, textbook/technology loan programs, and grants to support pro bono and low-cost care for vulnerable Marylanders.

    The budget must be enacted within 83 days of the session start, which is a week prior to the end of the 90-day session. If there is no budget within 83 days, the Governor must call for an extended session. That session will start immediately after the regular session if no budget has passed yet. The budget bill becomes law as soon as it is enacted.


    Novena for Life Starts Jan. 19 

    9 Days for Life is an annual novena for the protection of human life, that runs this year from Jan. 19-27. Each day’s intention is accompanied by a short reflection and suggested actions to help build a culture of life.

    Download the novena or sign up to receive the daily prayers via email or text message (English and Spanish). You also can view the daily reflections online, and print flyers with the reflections.

    This Thursday, Jan. 20, 5:30 p.m., is the National Vigil Mass for Life, which will be celebrated by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Then, on Friday, the Youth Rally and Mass for Life with the Archdiocese of Washington and Cardinal Wilton Gregory will be livestreamed from the Cathedral of St. Matthew, starting at 8:30 a.m. The National March for Life will take place midday.


    Pray for Our Elected Officials

    Tiffany Farley, executive director for Gabriel Network, leads this week’s prayer for our elected officials. The network of pro-life churches across Maryland and DC empowers women to choose life. With the vision of every vulnerable mother and child being embraced in Christ's love and the care of His people, this non-profit works with the hope that one day abortion may be unthinkable.

    Get the prayer (English and Spanish) and links to all prayers for the session at http://www.mdcatholic.org/prayer


    Of Note

    Poverty Awareness Month: Daudi Boma is one of nearly 2,200 individuals who sleep on the streets of Baltimore City or in temporary shelters, according to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which reminds us that “every person counted in that statistic has a story associated with their journey.” Learn more and watch his story, first shared on WJZ-13.

    Recipe: SHARE, which provides low-cost, healthy groceries to families in need through volunteer-run locations in the Archdiocese of Washington and Baltimore metropolitan region, is now featuring monthly cooking demonstrations. This month’s feature is Roasted Balsamic Vinaigrette Vegetables


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    We need you!

    The General Assembly is in session. The more people in our network, the stronger our voice!  Network members will get Catholic Advocacy Day and other alerts throughout the legislative session. Sign up below or, if you prefer text, text CATHOLIC to 1-443-764-8765 (you will be asked a couple of follow up questions). Thank you!


    The Maryland Catholic Conference is the public policy entity for the Maryland Catholic Church, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archdiocese of Washington, and Diocese of Wilmington.

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    First Day of the 2022 Legislative Session

     

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    Jan. 12, 2022 | Annapolis, MD


    Maryland Legislative Session Opens 

    Maryland's General Assembly first met in 1634. Today marks the opening of the 444th session, which will continue through April 11. In addition to what we anticipate will be a busy legislative session, Marylanders will head to the polls in 2022. Every General Assembly seat, statewide offices such as Governor, a U.S. Senate seat and all eight congressional seats will be on the ballot.

    COVID again is a factor in how the legislative session will be conducted. While lawmakers are back in Annapolis, changes include virtual committee hearings, a ban on large group events in government buildings, requirements for visitors to have appointments, and other adjustments. 

    On the Agenda

    Redistricting will dominate the early days of the session as lawmakers change state legislative district boundaries to reflect population changes from the U.S. Census.

    We anticipate more than 2,000 bills will be filed this session, with hundreds already pre-filed. Proposed laws are wide-ranging and include a proposal to remove conscience protections for faith-based hospitals; reforms of the youth justice system; proposals to address food insecurity, housing and transportation access for lower income residents; suicide prevention efforts; right to counsel for immigration hearings; funding for BOOST scholarships and school nurses; environmental protection; and a number of bills related to life issues, from the start of life to the end. 

    Our staff will read every piece of legislation, submit testimony on nearly 200 bills (to be published here) and work with other organizations and lawmakers to advocate for our Church, schools and ministries, and the people we serve. 

    We encourage you to follow our testimony. We also will provide updates in our weekly email.

    Your Voice Matters

    If you aren't already a member of the Catholic Advocacy Network, join now! Network members from across Maryland receive email updates, action alerts, resources for this year's virtual Catholic Advocacy Day on Feb. 16, and election information for the primary and general elections to be held later this year. 

    Click below, go to mdcatholic.org/joincan or, if you prefer text alerts, text CATHOLIC to 1-443-764-8765 (you will be asked a couple of follow up questions). And, please share this with Catholic friends and parishioners. Thank you! 


    Youth Justice Reform Town Hall Tonight
    with Archbishop Lori, State Legislators, and Others

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    The Maryland Catholic Conference is holding a virtual town hall on the critical issue of reform for the state's youth justice system tonight, 7-8 p.m. Watch on Facebook Live or YouTube. Get details and links: www.mdcatholic.org/youthjusticereform.

    Participants include Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori; State Senator Jill P. Carter (D-41); Delegate Sandy Bartlett (D-32); James Dold, CEO of Human Rights for Kids; and Krystal Williams, with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.

    Andre Hepkins of WBAL-TV will moderate the conversation.


    Of Note 

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is Jan. 17, and his legacy advocating for equality and an end to racism will be commemorated at Mass with Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell on Jan. 22, 7 p.m., at St. Thomas More, 4275 Fourth St. SE, Washington, DC 20032. Download the flyer here.

    Respect Life Activities: This Jan. 22 marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the legalization of abortion. The outdoor National March for Life will take place on Jan. 21 (the Maryland March for Life is Feb. 3). Please pray for mothers and children in a special way this month: 

     

    Also in January

    Yesterday was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. We have resources online, including information on reporting suspected trafficking, and parish resources. Feb. 8, the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, also is International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking and an opportunity for parishes and schools to raise awareness.

    January also is Poverty Awareness Month. Approximately 1 in 10 Marylanders lives in poverty. See resources here.


    Pray for Our Elected Officials

    As the General Assembly meets over the next 90 days to create and enact laws that will impact our Church, the vulnerable, and life, please keep the senators and delegates in prayer, along with our governor.

    Join us weekly as, each Monday, a Catholic from Maryland will lead us in prayer, to be posted here, on our website, and on Facebook and Twitter (@mdcatholic).  

    To start the legislative session, Jenny Kraska, our executive director, is this week's prayer leader.


    Take Action!

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    This Advocacy & News Update is now posted on our website, making it easy to share and use content in bulletins and Flocknote.

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    Maryland special session wrap up and Advocacy Network

     

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    Dec. 14, 2021 | Annapolis, MD


    Redistricting, Veto Overrides during Special Session

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    Maryland’s lawmakers were back in Annapolis last week for a special session. The legislature tackled two priorities: approve a congressional redistricting map and override vetoes of several bills that the General Assembly had passed during the 2021 regular session.

    New Congressional District Map

    New boundaries for Maryland’s congressional districts were approved by lawmakers during the rare December session.

    Redistricting after a decennial census is part of a mandated review (per federal and state constitutions) to rebalance congressional and state district boundaries according to shifts in the population. The process can become political as parties tend to revise boundaries that favor one party or another. 

    The Washington Post has the current and revised maps here.

    Governor Larry Hogan, whose Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission proposed a different set of congressional boundaries earlier this year, immediately vetoed the General Assembly’s new congressional district map. The General Assembly then overturned his veto, which means the next step for opponents will be court challenges.

    State legislative district boundaries will be redrawn during the 2022 legislative session, which starts Jan. 12. The Maryland Catholic Conference does not weigh in on redistricting but will monitor changes to legislators’ districts. 

    Legislature Overrides Immigration Bill Veto

    Governor Hogan vetoed several bills following the 2021 regular legislative session. Among the veto overrides passed by the General Assembly last week was a bill that the Maryland Catholic Conference supported, HB 16, known as the Dignity not Detention Act. This legislation prohibits the State and local jurisdictions from entering into agreements facilitating immigration-related detention by private entities.

    Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, spoke about the veto override, “I welcome enactment of the Dignity Not Detention Act. In the face of unjust discrimination, the common good requires that we stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters, recognizing their God-given dignity. I pray that this new law brings comfort to immigrant and mixed-status families throughout Maryland and promotes better relations between those charged with public safety and the communities they serve.”

    Juvenile Justice Press Conference

    Juvenile justice was another hot topic last week, with a press conference to highlight priorities for the 2022 legislative session. The Maryland Catholic Conference participated, as did other nonprofit representatives and Sen. Jill Carter (D-41), Del. Gabriel Acevedo (D-39), Del. Sandy Bartlett (D-32), Del. Charlotte Crutchfield (D-19) and Del. Debra Davis (D-28).

    Priorities include ensuring an attorney is present when a juvenile is interrogated, setting a minimum age for a youth to be tried as an adult, and other safeguards. Read more in Maryland Matters.


    Maryland 529 Funds Dispersed

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    The State of Maryland recently disbursed matching funds for participants in the state’s 529 education savings plans.

    This is a great program that gives parents, grandparents and others tax incentives to save for Catholic school or college tuition. The state matches up to $500 in contributions to a 529 plan.

    If you haven’t opened one, learn more about this option at the Maryland 529 website and download and share the flyer.


    Take Action!

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    We need your voice during the upcoming General Assembly session! Sign up now for the Catholic Advocacy Network and join Catholics from across Maryland in advocating for vulnerable Marylanders, and for our schools, churches and ministries. 

    As a member of the Catholic Advocacy Network, you will receive occasional action alerts via email that you just click, sign and send to your legislators, plus get weekly updates on key legislation and issues.

    Click below, go to mdcatholic.org/joincan or, if you prefer text alerts, text CATHOLIC to 1-443-764-8765 (you will be asked a couple of follow up questions). And, please share this with Catholic friends and parishioners. Thank you! 


    Of Note 

    Federal Build Back Better Act Concern: A coalition of faith groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have written to Congressional leaders expressing concern that the Build Back Better Act will exclude faith-based childcare and universal pre-kindergarten providers and urging changes that “closely track the existing federal child care model.”

    Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore just announced it is launching a $75 million fundraising campaign, its largest ever. The agency already has raised $45 million for the Greater Promise campaign. Learn more about how the funds will be used.

    Finally – for the last week of Advent, a recipe for Starlight cookies meant to commemorate Mary’s and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

    Have a blessed Christmas!

     

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

     

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.

    Amen.


     

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