Each year, on the second Tuesday of March, the New York State Catholic Conference holds Public Policy Day. NYS Catholics are encouraged to come to Albany to advocate for our Catholic Principles. The Conference selects issues to encourage us to speak about to our legislators. This year’s issues included funding for Catholic Schools, Health Care for the Elderly and Disabled, Prisoner Re-entry programs, and maternity program funding (For a more detailed list check out http://www.nyscatholic.org/pages/news/show_newsDetails.asp?id=505).
I traveled with a group from Elmira (we also picked up two from Tioga County who visited their own legislators). Our Elmira group including 2 students from Holy Family Middle Schooland their principal, two parishioners from St. Mary’s Southside, Kathy Dubel of Catholic Charities, and myself. In the morning we met with Assembly Tom O’Mara. At 11:45 a.m. we joined all the Catholics for a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Dolan of New York and all the bishops of New York. In the afternoon we met with a member of Senator Winner’s staff (Senator Winner himself was called into a meeting with the Governor’s office).
The two meetings lasted around a half-hour. Both Assemblyman O’Mara and Senator Winner’s staff person were very open in talking with us. Did we change the “state” in one-half hour? Not likely. But I still believe it is important that we do this. We need to make sure our voice is heard. Each year thousands of people go to Albany to make their positions known. We need to be sure that our legislators (and governor) know this issues are important enough for us to speak up for. A silent voice is no voice.
Of course, not everyone can travel to Albany for a day to advocate for our Catholic values. You can still write your legislators on issues that are important to you. If you live in New York you can join the Catholic Advocacy Network and they will send out emails to keep you informed about issues before our State Government as they relate to Catholic teaching. (The United States Bishops have a similar program at http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/takeaction100127.shtml.)
Remember a silent voice is never heard.
Thanks for the plug for the NYS Catholic Conference, Father Jeff. I’m glad you had a productive day. Thanks for being there.
Director of Communications
NYS Catholic Conference