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Environment Town Hall and Catholic Advocacy Day This Week

 

Feb. 15, 2022 | Annapolis, Md.
Archdiocese of Baltimore | Archdiocese of Washington | Diocese of Wilmington

 

This Week:
Environment Town Hall and Catholic Advocacy Day

Tonight: Environment Town Hall 

 

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori will be joined by State Senator Jill Carter, Delegate Benjamin Brooks, and others to discuss environmental responsibility in Maryland during our virtual town hall. Join us on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m., on YouTube or Facebook Live.

Looking ahead: Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, will host a town hall on March 9, 7 p.m. Details coming soon!

TOWN HALL

Catholic Advocacy Day is Wednesday

 

Join Catholics from across Maryland to speak out on behalf of life, education, and human dignity during our annual statewide Catholic Advocacy Day. 

Participating is easy - it takes just a few minutes - and makes a big impact with our state elected officials. We will email everything you need on Wednesday, but you can preview the topics below.

CATHOLIC ADVOCACY DAY

In addition to the Advocacy Day bills, which represent respect life; education, children and families; and social and economic justice, we advocate on many more issues. We provide testimony and work behind the scenes to advocate with legislators on respect for life, children and families, disabilities, education, care for creation, immigration, human trafficking, justice reform, poverty, and more. 

 

Advocacy Day Action Alerts

Oppose enshrining abortion in the Maryland Constitution.

This is the most far-reaching of egregious bills on life introduced this session.

 

Support bonding between incarcerated mothers and their babies.

Certain incarcerated women who are pregnant or newly parenting would be able to stay short-term in a pre-release center to bond with and care for their babies.

Fully fund BOOST scholarships.

BOOST provides educational equity for low-income children to attend Catholic or other non-public schools and has benefited thousands of children.

Ban untraceable "ghost" guns.

Prohibit a person from purchasing, receiving, selling, offering to sell, or transferring an “unfinished frame or receiver" and other provisions to prevent the use of untraceable firearms.

Support comprehensive climate solutions bill.

Care for creation by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate equity within communities disproportionately affected by climate change.

 

Be a voice for hope and justice

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BOOST Scholarships, Prayers to End Human Trafficking, Catholic Advocacy Day

 

Feb. 7, 2022 | Annapolis, Md.
Archdiocese of Baltimore | Archdiocese of Washington | Diocese of Wilmington


 

Be a Voice for Hope and Justice

"We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern." - Pope Francis

 

Next week you will have the opportunity to stand with Catholics from across Maryland as we raise our voices in support of life, justice, and the common good through outreach to our legislators.

The day has three parts: prayer, education, and action. We will provide everything you need to participate virtually.

Thank you for participating in Advocacy Day, and please invite your friends and parishioners to join you. A few minutes is all it takes to be a voice for hope and justice.

Jenny Kraska
Executive Director, Maryland Catholic Conference

CATHOLIC ADVOCACY DAY

Latest News

72% of Human Trafficking Victims are Women & Girls

Feb. 8, the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, marks the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. The Maryland Catholic Conference is supporting anti-trafficking legislation, SB 91, that would require innkeepers to keep track of guest names and to train staff to identify potential trafficking.

Help prevent human trafficking:

  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: downloadable flyers in 23 languages, wallet cards, and website widgets with hotline contact information
  • Prayer: The International Unions of Superiors and Superiors General have a prayer vigil, background, and more on this website.
  • Share: Use the hashtag #PrayAgainstTrafficking and join the worldwide awareness effort on social media, starting Feb. 8
PARISH RESOURCES

Environment Town Hall 

The General Assembly is considering a number of environmental bills. Laudato Si' makes the connection between care for creation and care for the vulnerable. Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori will be joined by legislators and experts to discuss environmental responsibility in Maryland.

Join us on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live:

  • Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore
  • Delegate Benjamin Brooks  (District 10)
  • Russell Dickerson, Maryland Commission on Climate Change
  • Robin Clark, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Chris Becraft, Underwood & Associates

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, will host a second town hall on March 30, 7 p.m. Details coming soon!

TOWN HALL
 

BOOST Hearing this Week

 

An important BOOST hearing is scheduled in the State Senate this week.

The BOOST Scholarship Program provides scholarships from the State of Maryland to enable children in need of assistance to attend a K-12 Catholic or other nonpublic school. BOOST currently is funded in the state budget year-by-year. Administration legislation being considered in the Senate this week will be critical to funding this popular scholarship program for low-income families for the long term.

An action alert will go out to members of our Catholic Advocacy Network asking legislators to support SB 401

Please pray for the parents who will testify about the difference BOOST is making for their children. A message we received this week from one mom:

"We are so thankful for the BOOST scholarship and are praying that it will continue and that other families that are in situations similar to mine are able to experience the Catholic School education ... [and] can be blessed with BOOST scholarships like my family."


Also this week

 

We are submitting testimony on at least 20 other bills this week. These include HB 454, the Prevention of Forced Infant Separation Act. Certain pregnant women who are incarcerated would be able to stay in a pre-release facility during their pregnancies and for up to one year after giving birth to support bonding between mother and child.

A number of youth justice bills also will have hearings, along with a bill to ban "ghost guns," a tax exemption for persons with disabilities, sales tax exemption for purchasing diapers, and more. Testimony will be posted online throughout the week.

Cardinal Shehan School Nurse Michelle Sheldon-Rubio leads prayer for Maryland's General Assembly
 

School Nurse Leads Prayer for Elected Officials

 

Michelle Sheldon-Rubio, RN, is school nurse for Cardinal Shehan School in Baltimore (Legislative District 43). We are grateful for our nurses. The proposed state budget includes $2.5 million to support non-public school nursing.

The prayer text (English and Spanish) and links to all prayers for this session are online.

Of Note

Have you been redistricted?

The General Assembly has passed new state redistricting maps. Check your address here to see if your district has changed.

Check redistricting map here

Sr. Magdala Marie Gilbert, OSP, a Baltimore Sun "Black Marylander to Watch"

Sr. Gilbert, 91, has been an Oblate Sister of Providence - the Order founded by Servant of God Mother Mary Lange - for 73 years. She currently serves as director of the Mother Mary Lange Guild, which promotes the cause of sainthood for Mother Mary Lange.

Read more

 

Be a voice for hope and justice

Join the Catholic Advocacy Network

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Catholic Schools Week, Support for New Parents, Immigration & More

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Feb. 2, 2022 | Annapolis, MD


Catholic Schools Week

This is Catholic Schools Week, the annual celebration of Catholic schools across the United States. Here in Maryland, nearly 46,000 students attend 141 Catholic schools (from early learning to high school) across the state.

Advocating for our school parents and schools is a priority of the Maryland Catholic Conference. This includes parent choice through the BOOST Scholarship Program, funding support for school safety and nursing, respecting religious conscience, Maryland 529 savings accounts for K-12 savers, and textbook and technology funding.

Last year, the State authorized $10 million for low-income families to choose a school that best meets their children’s needs, with scholarships for elementary and high schools through the BOOST Scholarship Program. Awards amounts vary based on elementary vs. high school since high school tuition generally is higher. Students with special needs also receive scholarships for double the base amount.

Explore our Catholic schools:


Deacon Darryl Kelley Leads Our Prayer

Deacon Kelley is a former State Delegate (District 26)

Deacon Darryl Kelley, from St. Philip the Apostle in Camp Springs, Md., is an attorney who also volunteers his time with the Archdiocesan Legal Network. He previously served as State Delegate for District 26. We welcome him as he leads us in prayer for his former colleagues and for all state lawmakers as they carry out their duties.

His parish school, St. Philip the Apostle School, is one of more than 140 proud Maryland Catholic schools celebrating Catholic Schools Week.

The prayer text (English and Spanish) and links to all prayers for this session are online.


Support for New Parents, Human Trafficking, and Immigration this Week

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Nearly 1,250 bills had been introduced in the General Assembly as of Monday morning. Hearings are in full swing (you can watch them online), and the Conference will be providing testimony on 17 pieces of legislation. These include

  • Sales tax exemptions for diapers and baby products, which will provide some financial relief to lower income parents.
  • Record keeping and training requirements for innkeepers to identify and report suspected human trafficking.
  • Establish the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program, with funding, so immigrants would have access to legal counsel in hearings. Both SB 129 and HB 114 will have hearings this week.
  • Establish Juneteenth National Holiday as a state legal and employee holiday.
  • Ensure parents will be notified if their child is charged with a crime and that children are afforded the right to an attorney in police interrogation. The Senate hearing was last week; this week the Child Interrogation Protection Act will be heard in the House.

Two Weeks to Catholic Advocacy Day! 

The countdown begins! The statewide virtual Catholic Advocacy Day is just two weeks away! Thank you to everyone who has been sharing the link for our Catholic Advocacy Network.

Please continue inviting your friends and parishioners to join you for Catholic Advocacy Day. We have lots of information on our website – www.mdcatholic.org – and follow us on social media (@mdcatholic on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) for updates.

Just a few minutes of your time can have a big impact. We’ll draft the alerts. All you have to do is click, sign and hit send, and your emails will go directly to your legislators.


Of Note

World Day for Consecrated Life: This special day of prayer for consecrated men and women religious is Feb. 2 (and celebrated in parishes next weekend).

Here in Maryland, many consecrated religious serve in our parishes, health care, education, and other ministries. This past fall, our staff visited Sacred Heart Home in Hyattsville, a top-rated nursing home that opened in 1926. A new nursing home, now under construction, is expected to open later this year.

Sacred Heart and St. Joseph, Catonsville, are both under the care of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, who participate in Christ's healing ministry by providing quality long-term health care for the elderly. 

Sisters at Sacred Heart Home, Hyattsville

Time to Care Act Webinar: Catholic Charities of Baltimore and the Catholic Labor Network are hosting a one-hour webinar on “Paid Family Leave and the Catholic Church,” on Feb. 7, 3 p.m. Register here.

This week: Groundhog Day has its roots in Candelmas Day, plus the Winter Olympics start this week. St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes.

Recipe for the week: As Black History Month kicks off, we are sharing this blog post about the influence of Black Marylanders, many of whom were enslaved, on foods in St. Mary’s County.


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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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Pregnancy support, raising the age of marriage & youth justice

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Jan. 26, 2022 | Annapolis, MD


 

Pregnancy Support, Youth Justice, Tax Exemptions, among Bill Hearings this Week 

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The Maryland General Assembly has a full week of hearings scheduled. The Maryland Catholic Conference will be providing testimony on more than 15 bills in the House or Senate. Among them:

  • Protection for pregnant college students, and new mothers, so they can continue their studies, and a requirement that institutions of higher education have a written policy on pregnancy discrimination awareness. HB 164 was introduced by Del. Anne Healey (D-22).
  • Setting the minimum age for marriage at 17. SB 29/HB 83 is an important step to protect teens and reduce human trafficking.
  • Authorizing a state income tax exemption for persons with a permanent physical disability of $1,000 per year (SB 235).
  • Providing an exemption from energy and property taxes for community solar programs that meet certain requirements, including reduced cost energy for lower-income households (SB 264).
  • Ensuring parents are notified if their children are going to be interrogated and that children will be afforded their constitutional right to counsel and be read their Miranda rights in a manner commensurate with their development age (SB 53)
  • Ending the automatic charging of youth, ages 14-17, as adults so cases begin in the juvenile court system. Juvenile judges would have discretion to waive cases to the adult system (SB 165).

 

Last week, the Conference also testified in support of state income tax credits for disabled veterans, Marylanders who are 100 years old or above, and for energy efficient upgrades to homes.

Education funding in Governor's proposed budget

Our staff also combed through the proposed 2022-23 budget that Governor Larry Hogan submitted to the General Assembly. Among the proposed budget items that now are before the General Assembly:

  • $10 million for BOOST scholarships for students from low-income families
  • $2.5 million for nursing at non-public schools
  • $6 million for the textbook and technology program
  • $3.5 million allocated for school security at nonpublic schools
  • $3.5 million for the DeGrange Nonpublic Aging Schools Program

Join Catholic Advocacy Day (Virtually) Feb. 16 

With many critical pieces of legislation in front of the General Assembly, we need you more than ever for this year’s Virtual Catholic Advocacy Day, which will be held Feb. 16.

The Maryland Catholic Conference will provide action alerts on three issues – on respect for life, education and youth justice, and social and economic justice – and all you have to do is click, sign and send.

Visit our Catholic Advocacy Day page to sign up, learn more and please invite your friends and parishioners to be part of Catholic Advocacy Day in Maryland! 


Pray with Sr. John Elizabeth!

Our lawmakers need our prayers! Spend one minute in prayer for our elected officials as they consider laws that will impact our state. Sr. John Elizabeth Callaghan, OSFS, is this week’s prayer leader. Sr. John Elizabeth is principal of Mount Aviat Academy in Childs, Md. (District 35), and a member of the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales. Thank you, Sister, for representing more than 140 Catholic schools across Maryland as we prepare for Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 30-Feb. 5).

The prayer text (English and Spanish) and links to all prayers for this session are online.


Of Note

Catholic Schools Week is almost here

The annual celebration of Catholic schools in Maryland and across the nation is Jan. 30-Feb. 5. If you are thinking about a Catholic pre-K – grade 8 school for your children (or grandchildren), this is the time to visit an open house to choose the best school for your children, and apply for next fall.

 

Time to Care Act Webinar

Catholic Charities of Baltimore and the Catholic Labor Network are hosting a one-hour webinar on “Paid Family Leave and the Catholic Church,” on Feb. 7, 3 p.m. Register here.

Prayers for Ukraine

Pope Francis has asked for a Day of Prayer for Peace in Ukraine today, Jan. 26. Most Catholics in Ukraine are eastern-rite and Maryland is home to four Ukrainian Catholic parishes.

From Caritas International: “We have all witnessed high-level meetings between officials in attempts to de-escalate the situation and return to a path of diplomacy,” said Tetiana Stawnychy, president of Caritas Ukraine. “And we wholeheartedly hope and pray that these efforts will succeed.” 

Global Child Thrive Act Anniversary

Catholic Relief Services is marking the first anniversary of the Global Child Thrive Act (GCTA) this week. This law directs the U.S. government to integrate early childhood development (ECD) interventions, such as early learning programs, age-appropriate mental stimulation for children, and interactive caregiving practices, into U.S. foreign assistance programs that serve vulnerable children and their families.

Events for Life Recap

Last week, Catholics across Maryland and the U.S. observed the anniversary of Roe v. Wade with prayer and a peaceful presence. Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori delivered a beautiful homily for the National Vigil Mass for Life on Jan. 20. The next morning, the Archdiocese of Washington held its popular Youth Rally and March for Life, with a small in-person group and a global audience via livestreaming. Enjoy the event here, including Mass with Cardinal Wilton Gregory.  

Recipe for the week: To mark the Day of Prayer for Peace in Ukraine, here is a Ukrainian borscht recipe.


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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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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.

STAY CONNECTED WITH US!

          

 

 

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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 rentrelief.maryland.gov 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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