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Physician-Assisted Suicide bill introduced again

For the fifth time in six years, proponents of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) have again introduced a bill (HB 643 / SB 701) to legalize the dangerous practice in Maryland. 

Last year, the PAS bill was narrowly defeated when it died in the Maryland Senate by way of a tie vote. Before defeating the bill on the floor, members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee amended the bill, attempting to fix many of its serious flaws.

The Maryland Catholic Conference and our allies in the Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide Coalition strongly believe that no amendments can make this bill acceptable for Maryland. However, proponents rejected changes made to the bill in 2019, and have introduced the same deeply flawed and predatory bill that our state has rightly rejected each time it's been introduced.

"The groups pushing to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Maryland are woefully out of touch with the people and leaders of our state, who have repeatedly rejected their agenda," said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "We are grateful to everyone in our Catholic Advocacy Network, who together sent more than 10,000 messages last year against physician-assisted suicide, and helped defeat this bill, but we need your help again this year."

Early signals show the Maryland Senate still remains opposed to the bill, but that doesn't mean the Conference's work is done. The flaws in this bill remain numerous and it continues to lacks any actual protection for vulnerable persons. 

If you stand with us against this bill, please consider joining the Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide (MAPAS) coalition for the most recent information on the bill. 

CLICK HERE to join MAPAS.

 

 

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BOOST VIDEO SHARES HOW PROGRAM IS HELPING STUDENTS SUCCEED

On Jan. 29, the Maryland BOOST Scholarship Coalition — of which Maryland Catholic Conference is a member — released a video sharing the stories of numerous BOOST scholarship recipient families, who, thanks to the program, have seen their children thrive in school. 

Since it was enacted in 2016, the Maryland BOOST Scholarship Program has empowered low-income families to choose the best educational option for their children. BOOST has made Maryland a pioneer in narrowing the achievement gap for low-income students and has proven to help those students academically. 

In the video, parents and students share how being a part of the BOOST Scholarship Program has enabled them to choose Catholic or other nonpublic education and how that has helped their children succeed in school. 

Watch the video below. 

The BOOST Scholarship Program is benefitting thousands of Maryland students, more than half of whom are people of color.

For the 2019-2020 school year, even more families than ever applied for a scholarship and 3,900 were certified as eligible to receive a scholarship.

However, more than 400 eligible students still remain on a waitlist to receive a scholarship.

Last year, the state legislature apportioned nearly $7.5 million for scholarships for the current school year, but demand was even greater. For the upcoming school year, Governor Larry Hogan has proposed to increase funding for BOOST to $10 million. The state budget, now in the hands of the General Assembly, must pass both chambers of the legislature by March 30.

To learn more about BOOST visit www.marylandboost.org.

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Discover and Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

For more than 40 years, Catholics schools across the United States have set aside the last week of January to celebrate Catholic Schools Week. This year, the celebration starts Sunday, Jan. 26 and runs through Feb. 1.

First held in 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. The theme for National Catholic Schools Week 2020 is “Discover and Celebrate” with additional daily themes for each day of the week. 

"For Marylanders, Catholic Schools Week is a yearly reminder of the vital role Catholic education plays in the lives of nearly 50,000 students and their families in our state," said Garrett J. O'Day, deputy director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "We hear year round from families who share with us the positive difference Catholic school has made for their children, both academically and personally. That is why we at the Conference work during our 90-day session to ensure that Marylanders are empowered to choose Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children."

According to the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), schools across the country will observe the annual celebration with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. This school year, the NCEA — which organizes the annual celebration — created a new event in connection with Catholic Schools Week, "Discover Catholic Schools Week." Discover Catholic Schools Week was held in November 2019 and schools were encouraged to spend that week connecting with prospective families, donors and other community members to share about their school. 

To learn more about Catholic Schools Week, visit: www.ncea.org/csw

 

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The Catholic Impact: How Maryland Catholics are making a difference in our state

Maryland is home to more than one million Catholics who work to transform lives every day through parishes, schools, social services, homeless services, senior care, medical care and more. 

"Catholics across Maryland live out their faith every day by serving others, helping to build community, and working to make our state a wonderful place to live," said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "Whether it is helping a family in need of rent assistance, medical care, or housing; or running a program like Safe Streets in Baltimore, Maryland Catholics are making an impact."

To share the great work happening across Maryland, the Maryland Catholic Conference created a Catholic Impact statement for each state legislative district. Each Impact details the many ways Catholics are transforming lives in their communities and are available to download from our website.

To download the Catholic Impact for your legislative district, CLICK HERE

 

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, Jan. 20 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and there will be numerous events in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Archdiocese of Washington to commemorate the life of Dr. King and his legacy. 

Baltimore

Friday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

St. Ignatius Catholic Community in Baltimore will screen the movie "Selma." For more information CLICK HERE.

Saturday, Jan. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

St. Ignatius Catholic Community in Baltimore will host a day-retreat for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance titled "Non-Violence: The Weapon that Heals." For more information CLICK HERE.

Sunday, Jan. 19 after the 10:30 a.m. mass

St. Ignatius Catholic Community in Baltimore will re-dedicate the St. Peter Claver chapel and a new image of the saint as part of the parish's work to atone for the sin of racism that was part of the parish's past. To learn more about this dedication CLICK HERE.

Monday, Jan. 20 at noon  

Bishop Madden will host a Prayer Walk in Baltimore. The event will begin with a gathering at St. Bernardine at 3812 Edmondson Avenue, Baltimore.

Please note that this walk will be during the day at a different time than usual because of the national holiday. There will be a lite meal and fellowship after the walk in Harcum Hall.

To reach the parish call 410-362-8664.

Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m.

Loyola University in Baltimore will host its 27th Annual MLK Convocation in the Reitz Arena. For more information on the event CLICK HERE. 

Washington

The Archdiocese of Washington will host its Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church (3800 Ely Place S.E. Washington, D.C.) on Saturday, January 18.

All are invited to attend. Praise and worship will begin at 3:30 pm featuring the Archdiocese of Washington’s Gospel Mass Choir. Mass celebrated by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, the first African American archbishop, will begin at 4:00 pm. For more information CLICK HERE.

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Celebrating Faith in Baltimore

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, Catholic leaders hosted the first-ever "Faith in Baltimore," a celebration highlighting the impact of the Catholic Church and Catholic services in the City of Baltimore.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore — led by Archbishop William E. Lori, who is president of the Maryland Catholic Conference — hosted the event along with Catholic Charities of Baltimore. The Conference's Executive Director Jenny Kraska was honored to attend along with numerous elected officials and more than 300 people who took part in the celebration. 

"The Church does so much to serve the citizens of Baltimore City and Maryland — from providing housing and free meals, to violence prevention and job training, to services like assistance for seniors and immigrants," Kraska said. "The amount of work being done by the Church to share God's love and be Christ's witness is incredible. This event helped bring a small amount of recognition to the people who do this work in the City, not for the spotlight, but simply because they are Catholic." 

The event included awarding the inaugural Faith in Baltimore Award to Ray Kelly, a native of West Baltimore who turned around his life and committed himself to building a better Baltimore. 

To read the Catholic Review's coverage of the event CLICK HERE.

 

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Save the Date: Virtual Catholic Day of Action

Save the date! Maryland Catholic Conference will host our first-ever virtual Catholic Day of Action on February 19, 2020.

The virtual Catholic Day of Action will encourage Catholics across Maryland to join together to send messages, make phone call and take other meaningful actions on state issues, from wherever they are that day. 

"We are excited to kick off this new virtual Catholic Day of Action this year and spur even more of our Catholic faithful to get involved on our issues," said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Conference. "You don't have to give up your evening and drive to Annapolis to be a voice for the work of the Church, you can join us from wherever you are by tweeting, calling, sending emails and engaging in conversations on social media that help us making a difference on many critical issues." 

More details on how you can take part in this virtual event will be coming soon!

To be kept up-to-date on the virtual Catholic Day of Action, make sure you have joined the Catholic Advocacy Network. CLICK HERE to join today. 

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Maryland proposes increase in BOOST funding


Nonpublic School students rally in Annapolis in 2017 for programs like BOOST.

Governor Larry Hogan (R) continued his support of the Maryland BOOST (Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today) Scholarship Program, proposing an increase in funding for BOOST to $10 million for the 2020-21 school year.

BOOST is a state of Maryland program that provides K-12 students from low-income Maryland families an opportunity to find the best educational fit for their needs by awarding applicants with scholarships to attend nonpublic school.

Hogan's proposed FY 2021 budget, introduced to the General Assembly on Jan. 15, would increase funding for the BOOST program by just shy of $3 million. 

"We are grateful that the State of Maryland has continued to invest in BOOST," said Garrett O'Day, deputy director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "We hope the legislature will also see the positive impact this program is having in the lives and in the academic performance of the students receiving scholarships and maintain this full $10 million in the budget they pass later this session."

The General Assembly has until March 30 to pass the FY 2021 budget, which includes funding for BOOST.

Maryland has slightly increased the program's funding from an initial allocation of $5 million when it was first enacted for the 2016-17 school year, to about $7.5 million for this current school year. 

However, in recent sessions, some members of the General Assembly attempted to cut the program, and ultimately, the legislature voted to keep the program at roughly level-funding for two straight years. 

For Maryland's low-income families, the minimal increases in funding for the program have not kept pace with demand and need for scholarships. In the current school year, there were 25% more certified applicants than the year before and many were waitlisted after the initial round of awards. 

"We've heard from hundreds of parents about how BOOST has changed the lives of their children and helped their families," O'Day said. "We will continue to work to ensure that every Marylander, regardless of income, has access to the educational option that best suits their needs."

If you want to join advocates in support of BOOST, CLICK HERE to join the BOOST Action Network. 

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Maryland Catholic Conference to present free info session on Jan. 15 at St. Louis Parish

The Maryland Catholic Conference will give a free info-session about what we do and how you can get more involved on Jan. 15, 2020, at St. Louis Parish in Clarksville.

"We represent more than 1 million Catholics in Maryland yet many still don't fully understand what we do," said Executive Director Jenny Kraska. "We encourage folks to join us in Clarksville on Jan. 15 to learn more about our work why, we do it and how they can help."

Kate Alexander, the Conference's director of communications and engagement, will lead the session. Those who attend are encouraged to ask questions, learn more about the Conference and join the Catholic Advocacy Network. 
Hosted by the Catholic Daughters and Knights of Columbus of St. Louis Parish, the talk will start at 7 p.m. in the social hall and is open to anyone who is interested.

WHAT: An Evening with the Maryland Catholic Conference

WHERE: St. Louis Parish Social Hall, 12500 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville, MD

WHEN: Jan. 15, 2020 at 7 p.m.

INFO: To RSVP for the free info-session, please email Cathy Stefano at jcstefano1@gmail.com or call 410-730-2613

 

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2020 Maryland General Assembly Session Underway


The 441st legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly officially began in Annapolis at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, with legislators, advocates and members of the public converging on the state capital to mark the start of 90 days of state policymaking.

Maryland's annual legislative session runs each year from early January to early April, and during that time, the state will consider many important issues. Sine Die, the last day of session, will be Monday, April 6, 2020. 

As of the opening bell, more than 50 House bills and 120 Senate bills were pre-filed. Legislators are expected to introduce as many as 3,000 bills during the 90-day session.

Among the top priorities for the Catholic Church during the next 90 days will be:

  • Education funding. The Conference will support increasing funding for the BOOST Scholarship Program and for expanding access to pre-Kindergarten to all Maryland 4-year-olds.
  • Protecting Life. The Conference will oppose any efforts to enshrine abortion in Maryland's constitution and to legalize the practice of physician-assisted suicide.
  • Support for our most vulnerable. The Conference will support efforts to protect immigrants, provide for our poor, curb human trafficking, protect the environment, provide services to individuals with disabilities, and violence protection programs.

To stay up-to-date on the work of the Conference throughout the next 90 days, be sure to visit the Legislation page on our website. This is the hub for all Conference activity during the next 90 days. We share every piece of testimony we submit and keep a tracker of all the bills we are weighing in on throughout the session on our website, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back often. 

 


Want stay informed on Conference activities?
Join our Catholic Advocacy Network.

Want to get even more involved?
Sign-up to volunteer as a Parish Legislative Ambassador


 

 

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