By the time you read this, the legislature will have already checked off three days from its 60-day legislative session. However, I’m writing this column three days before the legislature even begins. While Charles Dickens was able to write about Christmas yet to come and help out ol’ Ebenezer Scrooge, I can’t say that I’ve yet mastered writing about the Legislature yet to come. So, I’ll save you my attempts to describe the future. Instead, let’s talk about two upcoming events you should put on your calendar and, of course, attend!
Pro-Life Mass & Nebraska Walk for Life (Jan. 18). Many people are familiar with the national March for Life. The March for Life is a major, annual gathering of pro-life advocates from across the country in Washington, D.C. These advocates—numbering in the hundreds of thousands—gather to peacefully protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (Jan. 22), the fundamentally unjust U.S. Supreme Court case that fabricated a right to abortion in our U.S. Constitution.
People are less familiar that Nebraska has a similar gathering, the Nebraska Walk for Life. This event is sponsored by our friends at Nebraska Right to Life, and it has been taking place since 1974, the year after Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. It typically takes place the week after or before the national March for Life.
The Nebraska Walk for Life draws thousands of Nebraskans who gather at the State Capitol for a brief program and then march to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Union to hear from a keynote speaker. This year’s keynote speakers are Jennifer and Jeff Christie. Jennifer will share her personal testimony of being raped and the healing she has experienced through saying “Yes!” to her beloved son who was conceived through that unjust violation of her human dignity.
Jennifer has powerfully stated: “I am not raising a ‘rapist’s baby.’ I am raising my baby. He is the love that I pour into him. He is the love of my husband who is raising him, siblings who play with him and grandparents who dote on him. He is all of these things and more. Is he a reminder? Yes, he’s a reminder that women can be stronger than their circumstances. He’s also a reminder that beauty can come from darkness.”
As usual, this year’s Nebraska Walk for Life begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the State Capitol. Be there and join thousands of your closest pro-life friends.
But don’t just show up for the Walk. Join the Nebraska Catholic Conference beforehand for the annual Pro-Life Mass. The Pro-Life Mass is our opportunity to gather as a community of faith and offer our prayers before the Lord who is present to us both in the Word and in the Eucharist. It is only through the merciful love of Jesus Christ that we will make abortion unthinkable in Nebraska!
The Pro-Life Mass begins at 9 a.m. at St. Mary Church (just north of the State Capitol). This year’s homilist is Father Scott Harter, a young and dynamic priest of the Diocese of Grand Island. You won’t want to miss out on our Eucharistic Lord and you won’t want to miss out on Father Harter preaching to the glory of God!
Catholics at the Capitol (March 4). With the legislative session now three days underway, it is an important moment for Catholics to consider how they can more intentionally participate in and impact the work of our state legislature. To repeat this quote from Pope Benedict in Deus Caritas Est, as I’ve done many times before: “If indeed ‘the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,’ the Church, ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight to justice.’”
A great way to make sure you aren’t on the sidelines in the fight for justice is to attend Catholics at the Capitol. This annual event hosted by the Nebraska Catholic Conference provides a morning program where you can learn about legislative issues that are important to us as Catholics and let your voice be heard by meeting with your state senator.
Catholics at the Capitol is a very concrete way to be the hands and feet of Christ and enter more deeply into the call of discipleship to help establish peace and justice on earth through the promotion of good public policy.
This year’s event will take place Wednesday, March 4, at St. Mary Church, located at 14th and K streets in Lincoln (again, just north of the State Capitol). The program begins at 9 a.m., Mass will be celebrated beforehand at 8 a.m.
As Bishop Hanefeldt of the Diocese of Grand Island often says when talking about Catholics participating in political life: “There is strength in numbers!”