A group of Catholics from the Westminster, Md. area pose outside the Miller Senate Office Building on Feb. 21.
photo credit: Fr. Mark Bialek, pastor of St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster (used with permission).
More than 400 Catholics from across Maryland packed the Miller Senate Office building in Annapolis on Thursday for the Maryland Catholic Conference's annual Catholics in Annapolis event.
"We are humbled and grateful for how many people came from all corners of our state this year to Catholics in Annapolis," said Jennifer Briemann, executive director of the Conference. "Your voices truly are the most powerful ones in Annapolis and we thank you for lifting them up in prayer and in defense of life, justice and human rights."
Security lines stretched out the door and around the block to enter the Senate building. Inside, it was standing room only for the Rosary — led by Bishop Francis Malooly and Msgr. Steven Hurley of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington — and to listen to speakers personally affected by the many issues being considered by the legislature — a new addition for 2019.
When asked by Conference Deputy Director Garrett O'Day how many people were at the event for the first time, more than half of the hands in the room went up. Many made their way to Annapolis by taking one of the seven buses provided by the Conference from regions across the state, thanks to the generous support of the Maryland State Council of the Knights of Columbus.
The heart of Catholics in Annapolis, now in its 35th year, is the time when those who attend meet personally with their legislators or their staff to advocate for important issues. MCC staff, interns and volunteers worked throughout January and February to ensure that every district represented on Feb. 21 met with at least one member or representative of their delegation.
"There are a lot of important issues our legislators are considering this year — from a proposed pro-abortion amendment to our state constitution and physician-assisted suicide, to stronger fetal homicide laws, human trafficking, and funding for BOOST scholarships," O'Day said. "Last night, those legislators heard from not a few, but hundreds of their constituents on these issues. And many for the first time. The impact of that is immeasurable."
The evening ended with a reception, catered by the Light House Bistro Catering in Annapolis, a program of The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center that provides persons experiencing barriers to employment with hands-on training and experience in the food service industry. And the famous Cardinal Shehan Choir returned to again share their talents. The choir, which traveled from Baltimore City, had the entire room rocking and dancing as they sang.
Catholics in Annapolis happens each February in Annapolis. To keep up to date on the progress of the issues from Catholics in Annapolis, sign up for alerts. CLICK HERE to join the Catholic Advocacy Network.