Last year, the Minnesota Catholic Conference held its first Catholics at the Capitol, a massive event that brought thousands of Catholics to St. Paul for formation in faithful citizenship and a chance to speak to legislators directly. That event is expected to return in 2019.
But that doesn’t mean Catholics are out in the cold when it comes to state politics this year. MCC is instead holding what it’s calling Capitol 101.
“Capitol 101 is another way for Catholics to have an experience of education and empowerment in a more intimate setting,” said Rachel Herbeck, outreach and policy coordinator for the conference. “Just like with Catholics at the Capitol, we hope Capitol 101 will offer a forum for education and action made simple and accessible. We want to give Catholics as many opportunities as possible to connect with their legislators and engage in the public arena as faithful citizens.”
It’s on a significantly smaller scale. There are three opportunities — Feb. 26, March 16, and April 17 — and each will have space for 100 people.
Each of those events will cover the same ground, including an overview of the legislative process, of a Catholic’s role in the legislative process, and of the legislative agenda of MCC, with a chance to hear from a legislator and a chance to pray together for legislators and the state. Following that, there will be an opportunity to meet with one’s own representatives.
Herbeck said one of the goals is to cut through the intimidation people might feel at engaging in the political process.
“So many Catholics are interested in getting involved, but many are intimidated by their legislators and the legislative process,” she said. “It often seems complicated and distant. But we want to demystify the legislative process and show Catholics exactly what their role is.
“Once people take that first step of involvement and meet their legislators, that fear melts away and they see how easy it is to begin a relationship with their legislators. Capitol 101 will give you the tools you need to be involved. Never underestimate how much [good] it does to just show up.”
Capitol 101 is free, although a free-will offering will be accepted, and Herbeck said it’s for any Catholic interested in learning where they fit in the legislative process, especially those who weren’t able to get to Catholics at the Capitol last year.
However, because space is so limited, she encouraged those who are interested to “register right away.” Details can be found at www.mncatholic.org.
The Minnesota Catholic Conference also continues to support the work of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition’s Day on the Hill, which will take place this year on March 13. JRLC is an interfaith organization that advocates for social justice. For more information on getting involved with that event, visit www.jrlc.org.
— By Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross