It's Catholic Schools Week!
We have so much to be grateful for this year in our Catholic schools: the principals, teachers, staff, students, and families who have continued to excel and adapt despite a worldwide pandemic. This week is one of celebration for our 146 Catholic schools and early learning centers in Maryland, which together save the state $710 million each year.
Mother Mary Lange School
Mother Mary Lange School will be the first new Catholic school in Baltimore City in more than 60 years. Poised to be a community pillar west of Martin Luther King Boulevard, the school will open its doors to students next fall!
Though no students are on campus yet, this week is special for the school and its principal, Alisha Jordan. Feb. 3 is the feast day of Mother Mary Lange, a day that happens to fall within Black History Month. Mother Mary, one of several influential African-American Catholics from Maryland, was a Caribbean immigrant who overcame many odds to establish the first Catholic school for children of color in Baltimore in the early 19th century and to found the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Today she is a Servant of God, on the path to possible canonization.
The school anticipates as many as 100 of its initial students will be recipients of the Maryland State BOOST scholarship program. The program helps low-income Maryland families have the opportunity to send their children to a non-public school. Many students have been relying on the scholarships to attend two Catholic schools that will merge into Mother Mary Lange School.
This year, over 2,500 students, from 21 of Maryland’s 24 counties, received BOOST scholarships, but the wait list is long. The governor has proposed $10 million in BOOST funds in his budget this session. We are hopeful the General Assembly will continue to support and even expand this popular program.
Prayers for Elected Officials
In celebration of Catholic Schools Week, we invited students from St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Clinton, Md., to lead our prayer for elected officials, a weekly tradition during the legislative session.
Located in District 25 (Prince George’s County), St. John’s has 212 students and has been educating with a hybrid approach this year, with in-person instruction three days each week. Thank you to Principal Ann Gillespie and our prayer leaders, Sophia Cuadra and Ninive Ramirez.
Click above for their prayer or visit our prayer page for the video and to read or download the prayer here (in English and Spanish).
Are you Ready for Catholic Advocacy Day?
Catholic Advocacy Day is just two weeks away! Mark Feb. 16 on your calendar in our one-day advocacy push with the General Assembly.
“Over 1,550 bills have been introduced so far between the House of Delegates and the Senate,” said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, adding, “We expect more may be filed this week. The deadline to file is Feb. 5 in the House of Delegates and Feb. 8 in the Senate.”
“The Catholic Advocacy Day action alerts will focus on issues where we really need the support of parishioners and students with the delegates and senators. They are your representatives and a big turnout says that people are paying attention and really care about the issues,” she added.
Alerts will be prepared on education, respect for life, and social and economic justice. Members of the Catholic Advocacy Network will get them in their inboxes or via text, plus they will be posted at www.mdcatholic.org/advocacyday, on Twitter and on Facebook.
Please use our parish tool kit to invite friends, students and fellow parishioners! Thank you to everyone who has signed up for the Advocacy Network and please keep inviting others to do so, too.
Follow Our Testimony
We post our testimony before the General Assembly a couple of times each week. Follow the bills you are interested in here.
St. Bakhita, Patron of Human Trafficking Survivors
This week, during Black History Month, we are highlighting St. Josephine Bakhita, who is inspiring our work to end human trafficking in Maryland. Her feast day is on Feb. 8, which also is the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Trafficking.
Worldwide, 40 million people experience human trafficking. Sadly, Maryland is considered a hotspot for trafficking, making prevention and education one of our respect for life priorities.
St. Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of trafficking survivors because she herself was a survivor. She was born in Sudan in the 19th century. At the age of nine, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a domestic worker. Her enslavers tortured and branded her, selling her multiple times. When one slaveholder brought her to Italy, the Cannossian sisters took her in and helped her fight for her freedom before a judge. She was educated by the sisters and later became a Cannossian sister herself, growing famous throughout Europe for courageously telling her story.
The Maryland Catholic Conference is supporting bills to educate students about human trafficking prevention, and to help hotels identify trafficking victims.
St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.
Maryland Tax News
If you received a stimulus check under either the March CARES Act or the December stimulus bill, those funds do not count as taxable income and will not impact your tax return. Also, please note that the tax filing date this year is back to April 15.
In addition, if you or someone you know is a lower-income taxpayer, there are some important programs to keep in mind – and some updates in light of COVID-19.
EITC and COVID-19
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides a tax break for low- to moderate-income workers. The December coronavirus relief package allows filers to use their 2019 earnings instead of 2020 to determine their eligibility, raising the total amount of refundable credits provided to lower-income earners.
Free tax assistance
A concern each year is unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of taxpayers by overcharging them – or charging them for services that they can get for free. The State of Maryland Comptroller’s Office would like Marylanders to know that any taxpayer earning under $57,000 per year is eligible for free tax preparation through CASH Campaign of Maryland (Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope).
Individuals making over $57,000 can submit their state tax returns for free (online or in person) on the Maryland Comptroller’s website. Maryland citizens also can email [email protected] for additional assistance or questions.
Thank you for praying for Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of Wilmington and former auxiliary bishop of Baltimore. The Dialog reports the bishop’s surgeon is “pleased” with the outcome of the cardiac bypass surgery. Recovery will take several weeks so please keep praying!
Feb. 2 is the 25th annual World Day for Consecrated Life and a great day to pray for and thank religious brothers, priests and sisters and all consecrated men and women for their vocation. If you are interested in exploring a religious vocation or know someone who may be, visit VocationMatch.com.
Pope Francis has established a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, to be held on the 4th Sunday of July, which is July 25 this year.
JOIN THE CATHOLIC ADVOCACY NETWORK
The Catholic Advocacy Network gives you a voice on important issues in Maryland. Learn more and join our network.