World Down Syndrome Day
The staff of the Maryland Catholic Conference has long celebrated World Down Syndrome Day, held annually on March 21, and this year is no different. We hope you will join us in raising awareness. Here are some of our favorite events and ideas:
- Sign up for the official Maryland observance of World Down Syndrome Day. Join First Lady Yumi Hogan, state legislators and other leaders, followed by a virtual dance party on Friday, March 19, 3:30-4:30 p.m. The Conference is a proud sponsor of this celebration.
- Join in #LotsofSocks. Wear bright, colorful, wild socks, snap a photo and post on social media with the hashtags #WDSD21 and #LotsofSocks and tag us @MDCatholic (those are our socks in the photo above).
- Pray along with Meghan Jones, our leader for this week’s prayer for elected officials. Scroll down to our prayer video for more about Meghan.
- Add a frame to your Facebook profile image by clicking this link.
- Look for the lights! On Sunday, the Governor’s Mansion, M&T Stadium and the Capital Wheel at National Harbor will be lit up in blue and gold to raise awareness.
Catholic Coalition for Special Education
One organization that is making a difference for Marylanders with Down Syndrome is the Catholic Coalition for Special Education (CCSE). Based in Kensington, Md., CCSE helps ensure children with disabilities have access to the same opportunities as their siblings and peers, including a Catholic education.
CCSE has provided $1.1 million in grant money to 31 Catholic schools across Maryland, while CCSE technical assistance helps schools expand their ability to serve students with special needs.
The partnerships CCSE creates with schools and educators is vital to its mission. This past weekend, CCSE honored four Catholic school teachers at its virtual Spring Benefit, for their commitment to inclusive teaching and to helping all students reach their potential.
The “Making IT Happen” honorees were Christina Green, on the faculty of Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac for 31 years and currently a teacher and assistant principal; Alison Interlandi, who taught at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda for eight years until moving closer to Annapolis; David Long, who has been at Lourdes for 23 years and is assistant principal; and Donna Reese, a dance instructor with the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington for 18 years who ensures that students of all abilities are included not only in studio classes, but as the CCSE shared in its Saturday program, “under the lights.”
Congratulations and thank you to these educators!
BOOST Applications Open
The State of Maryland is now accepting applications for next year’s BOOST scholarships, pending legislative approval of BOOST funding. BOOST scholarships empower families with limited incomes to send their child to a Catholic or other non-public school. Go to www.marylandboost.org for a link to the state’s application, videos with BOOST families, and more.
While applications are open, the General Assembly is still debating funding for BOOST, and there are a couple of important votes this week. On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee voted against increased funding. The waiting list for BOOST tripled this year so this is a program that families want. We are now looking to the state Senate to help more Maryland families. Please contact your legislator if you receive an alert and, if you didn’t, please keep this intention in prayer.
With one month to go in the legislative session, we are monitoring, following and advocating on approximately 170 bills that are at different points in the House and/or Senate. Many of the bills have the potential to make a significant difference in supporting vulnerable residents. Among them:
The Trust Act (SB 88)
The Trust Act (Senate Bill 88/House Bill 304) provides important clarity regarding the roles of local and state law enforcement involving the immigrant community; in particular, notification procedures from local or state entities to federal agencies without a federal judicial warrant.
MJ Kraska, associate director for social and economic justice at the Conference, notes that “Senate Bill 88 balances the needs for both public safety and immigration … rebuild[ing] the necessary trust between law enforcement and immigrants throughout Maryland.”
He added, “When immigrants feel safe around law enforcement, they will feel safe in reporting crimes and sharing other critical information with the local police and that will help the authorities keep our communities safe for everyone.”
SB 88/HB304 is sponsored by Senator Will Smith (D-20, Montgomery County) and Delegate Wanika Fisher (D-47B, Prince George’s County).
Prenatal Care Bill Would Help Pregnant Women
We continue to push ahead on Senate Bill 777, which would expand grant funding for prenatal care, and allow additional providers, including Catholic hospitals, to participate in a program that currently is limited to counties.
A lack of prenatal care is correlated with higher infant and mother mortality, pre-term births, low birth weight and other serious issues. Here in Maryland, 30% of women receive inadequate care. A lack of access, ability to pay, or ineligibility for Medicaid leaves Black and Latina mothers disproportionately at risk. In 2017, only half of Latina mothers received adequate prenatal care in Prince George’s County, and the problems don’t end there.
“Our parish, Sacred Heart of Jesus – Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, in Baltimore’s Highlandtown, is in a wonderfully vibrant community, but many of our parishioners are immigrants and low income. They don’t have access to the kind of prenatal care that most families take for granted,” said Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR, who serves as pastor, adding, “This program would make a real difference for both mothers and babies.”
Testimony on bills is posted after the hearings here throughout the week.
Join Meghan Jones in Prayer
This week’s prayer for elected officials is led by Montgomery County parishioner Meghan Jones. As Meghan notes in her prayer introduction, something special about her is that she was born with an extra chromosome. She currently is a student at Montgomery College, where she is getting a certificate in ASL. Please pray along with Meghan in English and ASL.
Join Sr. Marilyn by clicking the image above or visiting our prayer page, where you can access all of the video prayers from this session and read or download the prayer (in English and Spanish). The prayer also is posted on Twitter and Facebook (@mdcatholic) every Monday at 10 a.m.
State tax filing deadline extended. The State of Maryland has extended the deadline to file 2020 tax returns from April 15, 2021 to July 15, 2021.
This is the Year of St. Joseph and this Friday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. The Dialog and Catholic News Service discuss the traditions of St. Joseph and whether you can eat meat on a Solemnity when it falls on a Friday in Lent. A popular St. Joseph food is zeppole. We know better than to suggest we know the best recipe, but here’s one that is popular online.
EWTN News in Depth featured Darren Stern, a parishioner in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, in a segment called, “Sharing Faith and a ‘Little Jesus.’” Mr. Stern talks about his faith and work. Watch here.
Prayer for St. Patrick’s Day: St. Patrick’s Day Breastplate is a beautiful and ancient prayer attributed to the saint. You may be familiar with at least part of the prayer (below). Join us in praying the full prayer, online here, this March 17.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me…
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