Bishop Jenky invites Catholics to Springfield rally March 3

CATHOLICS from around Illinois are being called to Springfield again in March, but this time they will take to their knees in prayer before taking to the halls of government to lobby their state representatives.

Sponsored by the Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI), the Second Annual Catholics at the Capitol will take place on Wednesday, March 3. It will begin with a Mass celebrated by the bishops of Illinois at 10 a.m. at the newly renovated Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 524 E. Lawrence Ave.

Following the liturgy, participants will remain at the cathedral for a presentation about “Advocacy at the Capitol” given by the CCI staff. Individuals who have made appointments will be free to meet with their legislators at the Capitol building starting at noon.

LAST YEAR’S event included a rally in the Capitol rotunda with students from Catholic schools around Illinois and drew more than 4,000 people to the state capital for a day of education, advocacy and networking. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, is urging as many Catholics as possible to join him again in Springfield.

“The purpose of the day is to provide parishioners an opportunity to live out their faith by learning about and participating in the political process,” he wrote in a letter dated Jan. 14. “The one-day event will focus on advocating for a policy agenda based on Catholic social teaching and the promotion of the common good.”

Noting that Illinois is facing a number of serious challenges in 2010, Bishop Jenky said people of faith must work together to “support funding for Catholic schools and for services to the most vulnerable in our state,” to defend the dignity of human life, to preserve program for immigrants, and to protect traditional marriage.

He asked that pastors designate at least one representative from each parish to go to Springfield for Catholics at the Capitol.

“WE WANTED to have a Mass last year, but renovations were being made to the cathedral and it was closed,” said Zach Wichmann, associate director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

For those who may be visiting for the first time, he said the church is just three blocks south and two blocks east of the Capitol.

Wichmann told The Catholic Post it was important for Catholics to make the trip this year.

“There’s an added urgency with the state’s fiscal condition. There are a lot of areas that Catholic schools and Catholic charities rely on,” he said. “We want to get the word out about the good work those institutions do.”

Those who attend the CCI briefing will receive a fact sheet that includes the issue areas that are the focus of the conference’s work and is designed to assist participants when they meet with their legislators.

“THE REASON we started to do this in first place is because we saw the political culture in Springfield move counter to the church,” Wichmann told The Post. “We wanted to influence the law makers and let them know what the church does and what the church teaches.”

The day also demonstrates to those who are governing and those who are being governed that it is important for people to make their voices heard, he said.

Those who would like to attend are encouraged to contact their pastor or principal to sign up as a parish or school representative. Flyers and registration forms are available in Spanish as well as English at www.catholicconferenceofillinois.org.

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