Nearly 4,000 Catholics have registered to participate in Catholic Advocacy Day, to be held April 4 at the Texas State Capital.
The day will include a rally with the state’s bishops, who lead the 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas, on the steps of the Capital beginning at 11:30 a.m. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, which is organizing the day, will livestream the rally on its Facebook page, TXCatholic.
During the day groups of Catholics will visit each of the Texas Senators and Representatives, carrying the Church’s position on a variety of bills before the Legislature.
“This is an exciting opportunity for many of our constituents,” explained Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. “They are able to stand in solidarity with their bishops, and meet their local legislators who are interested in hearing their point of view on these important issues.”
Priority bills of the 85th Legislature for the TCCB include those that address pro-life concerns, immigration reform, the state’s foster care system, environmental issues, parental choice in education, death penalty sentencing instructions, mental health services and human trafficking issues. The bishops’ legislative agenda is available at www.txcatholic.org/85th-legislature-bill-positions; this week’s priority bills are at www.txcatholic.org/priority-bills-for-the-85th-legislature/.
“I look forward to joining the Bishop of Texas and the faithful from every diocese as we stand together in support of laws and policies that promote the common good of all Texans,” said Bishop Joseph E. Strickland.
Another issue of importance to the TCCB is conscience protection for those who wish to be part of the reform of Texas’ foster care system. “The children in the Texas child welfare system deserve the best we have to offer, yet without conscience protection, it is the children and families in crisis who suffer,” explained Allmon. “Conscience protections allow our faith-based providers to continue to be a safe and loving refuge for children in crisis and to accompany them on their journey to healing and wholeness, breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect one child at a time.”
More than 1,500 Catholic school students will be part of the delegation. They will have an opportunity to participate in a mock hearing on payday lending regulations, an issue that has been a priority for the Church in recent years.
The bishops will gather the evening before to celebrate Mass with some of the delegates who are arriving early. They will also be meeting individually with several key legislators, and Bishop Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi and Bishop Brendan Cahill of Victoria will be offering the opening prayers for the House and Senate on April 4.
“Many legislators tell us how much they look forward to the Catholic Advocacy Day,” Allmon said. “We try to bring a hopeful, joyful and positive spirit to the Capital.”
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is the association of the Roman Catholic bishops of Texas. Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice that includes monitoring all legislation pertaining to Catholic moral and social teaching; accredit the state’s Catholic schools; and maintain records that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.
Full list of Catholic dioceses and bishops participating in Catholic Advocacy Day
Diocese of Amarillo – Bishop Patrick J. Zurek
Diocese of Austin – Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Garcia
Diocese of Beaumont – Bishop Curtis J. Guillory
Diocese of Brownsville – Bishop Daniel E. Flores
Diocese of Corpus Christi – Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey
Diocese of Dallas – Bishop Edward J. Burns, Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly
Diocese of El Paso – Bishop Mark J. Seitz
Diocese of Fort Worth – Bishop Michael F. Olson
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston – Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Auxiliary Bishop George Sheltz
Diocese of Laredo – Bishop James A. Tamayo
Diocese of Lubbock – Bishop Robert M. Coerver
Diocese of San Angelo – Bishop Michael J. Sis, Bishop Emeritus Michael David Pfiefer
Archdiocese of San Antonio – Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Boulette
Diocese of Tyler – Bishop Joseph E. Strickland
Diocese of Victoria – Bishop Brendan J. Cahill