Hundreds to descend on Austin for Catholic Advocacy Day

April 4, 2013

Hundreds from Archdiocese to descend upon Austin for Catholic Advocacy Day
Catholics meet with state law makers to promote legislation protecting the poor and vulnerable

WHEN: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 6 a.m. departure
WHERE: Departure from various locations
By Catherine Rogan

HOUSTON — According to industry reports gleaned by the Texas Catholic Conference, Texans paid $22 on every $100 they borrowed for a 14 to 30-day loan during the first quarter of 2012. The high cost of these loans, often issued by payday lenders, have left vulnerable families in a cycle of debt, where they are continually paying fees and interest without ever paying down the loan.

Issues like this are why approximately 300 Catholics from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will be joining other Catholics from across the state to meet with individual lawmakers on what has become known as Catholic Advocacy Day. This year’s event is on Tuesday, April 9.

The advocates, known as Archangels, will be arriving by the busload for a rally on the steps of the state Capitol before meeting with legislators about issues including protecting and providing for the poor and vulnerable, immigration, the strengthening of families, the protection and sanctity of life, reforming the criminal justice system and more.

“Our primary objective is to support the social and moral concerns agenda of the bishops of the Texas Catholic Conference. We want to reiterate in the minds of state legislators the presence, concern and moral imperatives of the Catholic community,” said Deacon Sam Dunning, director of the Office of Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese, who with the logistical support of Rhonda Sepulveda with Catholic Charities, organized this year’s trip.

To be effective, Dunning prepared Archangels to get their message across quickly and efficiently. “If you are well informed and measured in your approach, you can have an impact,” Dunning said.

Groups are encouraged to focus on only two or three issues, but they do have flexibility about which ones they want to highlight. “Some individuals have a passion for immigration issues or issues that relate to supporting funding for alternatives to abortion,” Dunning said.

While Catholics have long been going en masse to advocate their positions during the biennial legislative sessions, it is only since the last one in 2010 that a special day was designated to unite Catholics across the state. “We want to go as a unified group with one voice, and this (designated day) is a good way to do it,” said Dunning.

And while it is late in the session, which started Jan. 8 and ends May 27, Dunning said they can still influence legislators to let bills at odds with the Catholic agenda die in committee and those that are in line with the Catholic agenda to be brought to the floor for consideration.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston serves 1.2 million Catholics in 10 counties. It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 12th largest in the United States.
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