Catholics from throughout Minnesota will come together in February to learn about the legislative process and make their voices heard on issues that are important to them.
Catholics at the Capitol, an initiative of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, is designed to demystify the process of legislative advocacy for those who have little or no experience in politics. The event will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the RiverCentre and the State Capitol in St. Paul.
With the help of keynote speakers like actor Jim Caviezel, Minnesota Catholics will learn how to bring their faith into the public square.
“Attendees will walk away with more knowledge about the political process and more resources to help them work for the common good in our state,” said Katherine Cross, communications manager for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the church’s official public policy voice in the state.
Caviezel, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Jesus Christ in the 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” is a good role model for living out our Catholic faith in public, Cross said.
“Jim has shown in both word and deed what it means to truly live out the faith in the public square,” she said.
Caviezel has spoken in interviews about his experiences in Hollywood, his devotion to the Blessed Mother, and how his faith and particularly the Mass are a source of empowerment for him.
“He provides an inspiring witness to overcoming the challenges and even the fears of living out the faith in a culture that is often hostile to it,” she said.
The day begins with Mass, concelebrated by all seven Minnesota bishops, at Assumption Church in St. Paul. A reception with Caviezel will follow. (There is an extra cost to attend this part of the event.)
The morning program gets underway at 9 a.m. with keynote speakers Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, EWTN Radio personality Gloria Purvis and Caviezel.
In addition to the keynote talks during the morning program, attendees will hear from those who are living out what it means to be a faithful citizen both inside the Capitol and in the greater community during a panel discussion, Cross said.
The legislative topics that will be addressed will focus on issues that affect life and human dignity. Attendees will learn how their fellow Minnesotans are affected by the issues and be equipped with the tools needed to help their legislators understand the issues.
In the afternoon, attendees will have the opportunity to visit with their local legislators.
“It is important to remember that your elected officials can only do their job of representing you if they hear from you,” Cross said.
Bishop Donald Kettler will be among those attending from the Diocese of St. Cloud.
“As people of faith concerned about the common good, we have a right to have our voices heard in the public square,” he said. “And we need to be in contact with our legislators on issues important to us as individuals and as Catholics. Catholics at the Capitol is a good tool for this.”
The Minnesota bishops will be participating in all facets of the day including the morning program at the RiverCentre and the legislative visits at the Capitol in the afternoon.
“We wish to offer a compelling and hopeful vision of faithful citizenship, healing some of the cynicism and division that drives so many people away from politics today,” Cross said. “Amid growing skepticism that faith has any place in the public arena, we want to foster a renewed commitment to missionary discipleship precisely through faithful citizenship.”
To learn more about Catholics at the Capitol or to register ($40), visit catholicsatthecapitol.org.
To register separately for bus transportation from Alexandria or St. Cloud, visit http://omf.stcdio.org/th_event/catholics-at-the-capitol-2.