Latest News - Maryland Catholic Conference

Latest News




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



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


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


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


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


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


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.



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New Maryland laws, Respect Life Month, and a new high school blessed

In this issue:

New Maryland laws go into effect, live webinars for Respect Life Month on physician-assisted suicide (English and Spanish), Synod Opening Mases, and a new Catholic high school opening this month

New Maryland Laws in Effect on Oct. 1


Hundreds of new laws passed by the General Assembly earlier this year went into effect on Oct. 1. A number address needs of low-income Marylanders, veterans, immigrants, and the incarcerated. Parents will benefit from expanded prenatal care for healthy pregnancies and the addition of changing facilities in public buildings. Other bills will help protect Maryland’s environment.

Among the new laws are a number supported by the Maryland Catholic Conference:

  • Prevent sentencing minors to life without the possibility of parole and allow a review of sentencing after 20 years (SB 494)
  • Increase the time of educational programming for inmates who have not received a high school diploma or GED (SB 86)
  • Streamline the administration of address confidentiality programs to protect victims of domestic violence and human trafficking (SB 109)
  • Coordinate mental health services for veterans and immediate family members (HB 605/SB164)
  • Require changing facilities (for diaper changing and personal care for adults) in public buildings (HB 321/SB 61)
  • Establish pilot program providing mobile laundry services for homeless persons (HB 189)
  • Expand data collection for foster youth, including education and financial support, and conduct research regarding child welfare programs (HB 854)
  • Add categories for information gathering, the results of which will help inform policies of the State child welfare system (HB 258/SB 592)
  • Offer diminution credits for inmates who achieve certain educational milestones (HB 89)
  • Increase funding for and provider access to the Maryland Prenatal and Infant Care Grant Program to help ensure a healthy pregnancy for mother and child (SB 777/HB 1349)
  • Establish the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program to address and combat student hunger and basic food necessities (HB 891/SB 767)
  • Adjust membership and selection of members of the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities (HB 1207/SB 674)
  • Remove mill residue from eligibility as a qualifying biomass in the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio (SB 65)
  • Establish a Governor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (HB 15/SB 85)
  • Establish an Access to Counsel in Evictions Program and other support for tenants at risk of eviction (HB 18)


The 2022 General Assembly legislative session begins Jan. 13, 2022.

Respect Life Month:
Stopping Physician-Assisted Suicide and More

respect life month 2021

We hope you can join our experts online today, Oct. 5 (English) and Oct. 14 (Spanish) as they discuss physician-assisted suicide and how to stop it from coming to Maryland, and join in upholding human life during Respect Life Month with these resources.

Prayer. Download the prayer card to St. Joseph (English and Spanish)

Physician-assisted suicide webinars. Join our Facebook Live event today, Oct. 5, 7-8 p.m. Medical and disabilities rights experts will discuss Deadly, Not Dignified: Fighting Physician-Assisted Suicide in Maryland, and, el 14 de octubre, de 7 a 8 p.m., únase con Obispo Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR, y Dra. Grazie Pozo Christie. More resources are online here.

Pro-life intercessions and bulletin announcements

Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Pray, raise awareness and act to end domestic violence

Mental Illness Awareness Week. The Archdiocese of Baltimore has compiled helpful resources on mental health and Saint Luke Institute has free online resources on stress and trauma, plus support for lay ministers.

Footprints Ministry. The Diocese of Wilmington is starting a ministry for families who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death.

World Synod Process Kicks-Off

synod 2021-2023

The Vatican will formally open a worldwide consultation process next weekend, Oct. 9-10, in preparation for the 2023 Synod of Bishops. “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.”

Dioceses worldwide will undertake a listening process that is rooted in prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. Local opening Masses for the Synod process: 

  • Archdiocese of Baltimore: Oct. 17, 11 a.m., Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., Baltimore
  • Archdiocese of Washington, Oct. 17, 7 p.m., Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1726 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC
  • Diocese of Wilmington: Oct. 17, 9:30 a.m., Cathedral of Saint Peter, Sixth and N. West Sts., Wilmington


Learn more about the upcoming Synod process:

Bishop Koenig to Bless New Catholic High School

Most Reverend William Koenig, Bishop of Wilmington, will bless the new Ss. Peter and Paul High School in Easton, Md., during a dedication and blessing on Oct. 29, as well as a new family life center and columbarium. The 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art high school is four times the size of the old school and includes 20 classrooms, a chapel, fine arts space, and an auditorium. The school’s 160 students started classes in their new school on Sept. 7. Learn more about Ss. Peter and Paul High School in The Dialog.

Of Note 

Red Mass in the Archdiocese of Washington: Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, was principal celebrant of the Red Mass sponsored by the John Carroll Society and held the Sunday prior to the opening of the Supreme Court session. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer to the United Nations for the Holy See, was the homilist. The Catholic Standard covered the Mass.

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment and animals. The Archdiocese of Washington has lots of great tips on how individuals, parishes and families can care for creation. This week also marks the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis signing the encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, in Assisi.

Hispanic Heritage Month continues through Oct. 15. Read about celebrations in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and enjoy this recipe for pupusas (courtesy of Catholic Relief Services).

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Back to school, environment and opposing assisted suicide

Back to School

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 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


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


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].


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.


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 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 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

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.


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Maryland Catholic Conference Congratulates New Bishop-Elect of Wilmington

The Maryland Catholic Conference congratulates Bishop-elect William Koenig, whom Pope Francis today appointed as the new Bishop of Wilmington. The diocese includes the eastern shore of Maryland. He succeeds Bishop W. Francis Malooly.

“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.

Bishop-elect Koenig has worked in parish ministry, vocations, and pastoral work with seminarians and clergy in the Diocese of Rockville Centre throughout his priesthood.

Kraska said, “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.”


The Diocese of Wilmington has set up a webpage here for the transition. Bishop-elect Koenig will be ordained as a bishop and installed as Bishop of Wilmington at a Mass on July 13, 2021. The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington was established in 1868 and comprises 56 parishes, 18 missions and 27 schools serving the State of Delaware and the nine counties of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. There are over 240,000 Catholics in the diocese.

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Session Wrap Up | April 16, 2021

Session Round Up

It was a wild end of session as both the Senate and House of Delegates convened on-site in Annapolis, working through the weekend and until midnight this past Monday to negotiate and vote. Their presence in town was notable after three months of Zoom hearings.

The legislators tackled major issues, from an override of the Kirwan Commission veto, which means a significant expansion of funds for Maryland schools (including funding for non-public pre-kindergarten); scholarships for low-income families; police reform; juvenile justice; immigration; and new support for at-risk pregnant and parenting women.

Out of 2,771 bills introduced during the 90-day session, a minority of which were passed into law. Our staff has spent this week reviewing the final text of some of the bills as amendments came fast and furious in the final days.

“We were uncertain how the session would turn out given the realities of COVID-19. That changed how everyone engaged with issues and each other. I’m really proud of the team at the Conference for adapting to the remote session and to parishioners who contacted legislators and responded when we sought people to testify. A lot of wonderful things came out of this session,” said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

While we can’t go through all of the nearly 200 bills the Conference weighed in on, we wanted to thank everyone who participated in Advocacy Day and responded to our action alerts, and to share some of the highlights with you.

BOOST scholarships: After intense debate, the BOOST Scholarship Program was fully funded in the state budget at $10 million for the 2021-22 school year (Operating Budget SB 492/HB 588). This is a 40 percent increase over last year and the highest funding since the program’s introduction in 2016.  Families with low incomes in 2020 are encouraged to apply as soon as possible! The deadline is May 17 (2020 tax returns must be completed) so time is short.

Support for non-public schools: Two programs, the Nonpublic Aging Schools Program and the Nonpublic Safety Improvements Program (Capital Budget SB 492/HB 590) were funded at $3.5 million each. Another $6 million was allocated for the Nonpublic Textbook and Technology Programs (Operating Budget SB 491/HB 588) for the upcoming year.

Repeal of life without parole for juveniles: Individuals charged while under 18 years old and sentenced to life in prison will now be eligible to go before a parole board after 20 years to seek a shorter sentence (SB 494 / HB 409).

RELIEF Act: In response to the devastation the pandemic has had on low-income Marylanders, the RELIEF Act expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, repeals taxes on unemployment benefits, and provides a state stimulus payment, among other provisions.

Environment: The passage of SB 674/HB 1207 means meaningful reforms to the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, while SB 121/HB 51 requires an environmental justice analysis for certain zoning requests, and a mandate for the Commission to recommend strategies for oversight of local zoning decisions that have environmental justice concerns.

Homeless services: The Mobile Laundry for the Homeless Pilot Program (HB 189) will provide funding for non-profit organizations to develop free mobile laundry services for individuals and families who are homeless, which addresses their human dignity.

Housing: The Right to Counsel bill, to ensure that low-income tenants have legal representation in eviction proceedings (HB 16), passed. Unfortunately, the companion funding bill did not so this is an unfunded mandate, but a good step in the right direction.

Immigration: The legislature approved and funded a new Governor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs (SB 85/HB 15), to develop neighborhood-based centers for immigrant services, assist in combatting crimes against immigrants and supporting civic and economic participation among immigrant communities. SB 478/HB 16, the Dignity Not Detention Act, passed, prohibiting the State or any local jurisdiction from entering into agreements facilitating immigration-related detention by private entities.

Legal services funding: Funding for the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (SB 413/HB 514) was expanded from $2 million to $8 million. The funds come from unclaimed money from judgments of restitution. The Legal Services organization works with non-profits to support legal aid programs statewide.

Police reform: An important part of the discussion on police reform was SB 74/HB 88, which requires law enforcement agencies to provide officers access to confidential mental health services, such as counseling, peer support, crisis counseling and stress management.

Diaper donation tax credit: Marylanders may receive a tax credit of up to $1,000 for donations of diapers or feminine hygiene products (or funds for these products) made to pregnancy centers, diaper banks and shelters that distribute these items to families in need (SB 622/HB711). Over 50,000 of the state’s infants and toddlers live in low-income families.

Pre-natal care grant expansion: The state’s Prenatal and Infant Care Grant Program is being expanded to $1.1 million in 2023 and up to $3.1 million in 2025 (SB 777/HB 1349). Hospitals and qualified health centers, including Catholic providers, are now eligible for grants to be used solely for prenatal care to help ensure a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby. This program will be especially important for low-income mothers who are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care.

Perinatal hospice information: Unfortunately, SB 891/HB 1112, legislation to require easy access to information on perinatal hospice services for parents facing a terminal diagnosis for their unborn child did not pass this session, the first year it was introduced. However, the bill, drafted by Maryland Catholic Conference staff, had a very strong showing for a first year and received widespread interest and bipartisan support so we are looking forward to continue to advocate for families in this difficult situation.

Pray with Mother Mary Lange

The staff of the Maryland Catholic Conference placed its work under the intercession of Mother Mary Lange throughout the session. In fact, throughout the year, we start our staff meetings praying for her beatification. As we wrap up the session’s work, we invite you to join us in praying to this holy woman whose deep Catholic faith transformed her adopted city of Baltimore and, in many ways, our Church nationally. Mother Mary Lange, pray for us.

Prayer for the Beatification of Mother Mary Lange

O Almighty and Eternal God,

You granted Mother Mary Lange extraordinary trust in Your providence.

You endowed her with humility, courage, holiness and an extraordinary sense of service to the poor and sick.

You enabled her to found the Oblate Sisters of Providence and provide educational, social and spiritual ministry especially to the African American community.

Mother Lange’s love for all enabled her to see Christ in each person, and the pain of prejudice and racial hatred never blurred that vision.

Deign to raise her to the highest honors of the altar in order that, through her intercession, more souls may come to a deeper understand and a more fervent love of You.

Heavenly Father, glorify Your heart by granting also this favor (mention your request) which we ask through the intercession of Your faithful servant, Mother Mary Lange. Amen.

Of Note 

The Pro-Life Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a today opposing the FDA’s decision to expand access to chemical abortion pills by not enforcing the “in-person dispensing” requirement in place since the presidency of Bill Clinton. 

Novena for Moms in Need starts April 19: Join Catholics across the U.S. for a Novena for Moms in Need. The St. Gianna Novena starts on Monday, April 19. Get the details, resources and more here on the USCCB website. 

Earth Day: April 22 is Earth Day and a great opportunity to reflect upon Laudato Si: Caring for Our Common Home, the landmark encyclical from Pope Francis. Starting in May, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will launch the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, engaging the Church in a journey to sustainability. Read the encyclical and use the resources here

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month: The (arch)dioceses serving Maryland have had child protection policies in place for decades. These include mandated prevention education, reporting and background checks, as well as pastoral care. Learn more here about statewide efforts, join Cardinal Wilton Gregory for a Mass on April 21, 12 noon (live-streamed here), and learn the signs of abuse and tips for prevention from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.


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Catholic Voice Update | April 5, 2021

Countdown to Sine Die

Sine die - the adjournment of the Maryland General Assembly session - is almost here. The legislature will wrap up its regular session next Monday, April 12.

“This final week can become very intense as the House of Delegates and Senate advocate for bills and try to work out solutions to their differences,” said Jenny Kraska, executive director for the Maryland Catholic Conference.

“Most of the legislation we have advocated for remains active. This includes police reform, juvenile justice, immigration, pregnancy support, housing, and more. We are being very vigilant as bills move through conference committees and votes,” she added.

“The most important thing Maryland Catholics can do this week is keep the work of the General Assembly in their prayer intentions. One easy way to do this is to pray along with Archbishop Lori, who is our video prayer leader this week. We also encourage prayers to Servant of God Mother Mary Lange.”

We will have a session wrap up in an upcoming Catholic Voice email so stay tuned. Both chambers did vote last week to drop the official Maryland state song. Written during the Civil War, “Maryland, My Maryland” became the state's official song in 1939. The Catholic Review took a look at the issue from a Catholic perspective.

Pray with Archbishop Lori

The Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and chairman of the Board of Governors of the Maryland Catholic Conference, offers a message and prayer for the General Assembly in this final week of session.

Click the image above or visit 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) on Monday at 10 a.m.

Support for Seafarers

The Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay mean shipping and fishing are major industries for Maryland. The Catholic Church has an active apostolate of prayer and support for the workers. A partnership of several organizations, including the Stella Maris National Office and the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking, of which the Conference is a member, has just released new resources:


Of Note: Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday, when we focus in a special way on God’s mercy, is next week. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a number of resources for the observance, including the origins of this devotion from private revelations to Polish Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.

Just last year, Pope Francis said in his homily for Divine Mercy Sunday:

“At one time, the Saint, with satisfaction, told Jesus that she had offered him all of her life and all that she had. But Jesus’ answer stunned her: ‘You have not offered me the thing is truly yours.’ What had that holy nun kept for herself? Jesus said to her with kindness: ‘My daughter, give me your failings’ (10 October 1937). We too can ask ourselves: ‘Have I given my failings to the Lord? Have I let him see me fall so that he can raise me up?’ Or is there something I still keep inside me? A sin, a regret from the past, a wound that I have inside, a grudge against someone, an idea about a particular person… The Lord waits for us to offer him our failings so that he can help us experience his mercy.”

The Divine Mercy devotion was particularly dear to Pope Saint John Paul II; he canonized the Polish Sr. Faustina on April 30, 2000. In celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday you can celebrate by making a favorite dessert of the Holy Father, Papieska kremowka (“Papal” cream cake).


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Catholic Voice Update | March 30, 2021

Two Weeks Left in Legislative Session

The General Assembly wraps up its annual legislative session in just two weeks. Right now, the main focus is on committees. Most bills have passed from one legislative body to the other (Senate to House or House to Senate) and are being considered by committees in the second chamber.

Others have moved on to conference committees. A conference committee has six members, pulled from House and Senate, who work to resolve differences in a bill. The committee issues a report. If it is accepted by both chambers, the bill goes on to a final vote. If not, the bill may be sent back to conference committee or left to fail.

After passage by House and Senate, most legislation goes on to the Governor. He has 30 days to veto a bill. If he doesn’t within that time frame, a bill becomes law. There are a couple of exceptions to this process. Budget bills become law upon final passage and cannot be vetoed. Also, the governor cannot veto a constitutional amendment.

The process can get complicated, so here are some great resources from the Maryland General Assembly:


If you are interested in a bill, you can click on a bill to watch its progress. Testimony from the Maryland Catholic Conference is online here, and includes a link to the bill page. Click “history” to see how it has moved along.

Legislation we are still monitoring include a number of bills on education (including BOOST funding), environment, juvenile justice, police reform and pro-life issues.

New Mass Vaccination Site in Maryland

Maryland is opening another mass vaccination site on April 5 at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College. Anyone 60 or older and other eligible residents (categories are here) can pre-register online or by phone at 855-634-6829 for this or any of the state’s mass vaccination sites, including Six Flags America Theme Park, Regency Furniture Stadium (Blue Crabs Stadium), Wicomico Civic Center, Hagerstown Premium Outlets and M&T Bank Stadium. You will be notified when an appointment is open.

As of Monday, March 29, over 911,500 Marylanders were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 2.6 million doses had been administered, according to the state’s vaccination dashboard.

In the news this week: Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Bruce Lewandowski was quoted in an Associated Press article on efforts by churches to help make vaccines accessible to all. From the article:

“’This community has been decimated by the pandemic. We want people to get through the red tape,’ said Bishop Bruce Lewandowski, an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, where vaccinations are taking place, is in one of Baltimore’s hardest-hit ZIP codes, a mostly Hispanic neighborhood where as many as 48% of COVID-19 tests were positive at one point.”

Join Fr. Francisco Aguirre in Prayer

This week’s prayer for elected officials is led by Father Francisco Aguirre, pastor of St. Catherine Laboure, a vibrant parish in Wheaton, Md. (District 18). St. Catherine is one of several parishes partnering with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to provide COVID testing as part of the Latino Health Initiative.

Join Fr. Francisco 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.

Of Note this Holy Week

Easter bread: This is a favorite recipe recommended by one of our staff. Enjoy!

Prayer resources: As we reflect upon the suffering of Christ during Holy Week, may we also keep in prayer the suffering of the poor and vulnerable. Check with your parish and (arch)diocese for Holy Week liturgies, and consider some of these options:


Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter.


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