2020 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering
In January, Bob, as our new Council Voice of the Poor Committee Chair and his wife, Donna Brown, President of St. Mary DeKalb Conference represented the Rockford Council for this whirlwind weekend. This included opportunities to meet Cardinal Cupich, SVDP national and regional leaders, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, and attend the unveiling of the Ozanam mosaic.
We thank the Brown's for being a part of this contingent to advocate for those who do not have a voice.
Here are Bob's highlights of his weekend.
Frederic Ozanam Mosaic Dedication
We opted to attend the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering luncheon last Sunday which was originally planned to feature political columnists David Brooks and Mark Shields. However, at the beginning of the presentation, it was announced that Mark would not be able to participate due to a recent surgery. David's excellent remarks conveyed his philosophy of life and view of the world incorporating Catholic examples. Prior to our trip, Donna and I had read his recent book, "The Second Mountain," which baby boomers can certainly relate to. Both speakers have appeared at the CSMG for the past 20 years.
After the luncheon, we took a taxi and joined other Vincentians at the reception held at the Catholic University of America, following the Frederic Ozanam Mosaic Dedication in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There, SVDP National President Ralph Middlecamp presided over a program that included a short video (link below) about the life of Frederic Ozanam. We brought back a copy of the Dedication booklet as well as other mementos for you. After the reception, we viewed the Ozanam mosaic in the Shrine (two photos attached). The EWTN broadcast lighting was still shining in the chapel. The link below also includes several more photos of the two events.
Cardinal Blase Cupich Presentations
Attached is the Cardinal's excellent keynote address which he delivered at the CSMG opening session. He also was the celebrant and delivered the homily at the Mass following the opening session. In his informal homily he shared stories about himself, his family and his priesthood, including humorous personal anecdotes. His main message was that God is a "tricky God" and God often "tricks us" into greater service... even before we fully realize what we have accepted as well as what more may come.
Ryan Lents, the leader of our Illinois Delegation, asked us to wait in the Omni Shoreham Hotel Ballroom after Mass because Cardinal Cupich wanted to meet briefly with us. Donna and I did our best to represent the Rockford Diocese as we stood next to the Cardinal in the front row of the attached cell phone photo. (Donna is wearing a blue top.)
Capitol Hill Visits
With the Impeachment Trial underway, our two U.S. senators were not able to meet with the Illinois Delegation. However, we did share the following policy and legislative concerns identified by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops with their staffs: 1) Respond to gun violence - extreme risk protection orders and background checks, 2) Extend new START (Strategic arms reduction treaty) and reduce funding for arms race, 3) Make poor and vulnerable people, and care for creation, a funding priority, and 4) Protect dreamers and provide a path to permanency and citizenship.
A few U.S. representatives did meet with their constituents, including our visit with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos which I had arranged. Donna and I were joined by four other CSMG participants from the Chicago Archdiocese and Peoria Diocese. Peoria is also in Cheri's 17th Congressional District. Our small group also met with a member of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky's staff, and dropped off USCCB Issues packets at three other congressional offices (Darin Lahood, Brad Schneider and Adam Kinsinger). Attached are two photos taken on Capitol Hill. One shows part of our Illinois Delegation in front of the U.S. Capitol, and the other shows our entire delegation in the lobby of the Hart Senate Office Building before we visited Senator Durbin's and Senator Duckworth's offices. (In the photo taken in the Hart building, Donna and I appear in the second row next to Pam Matambanadzo who is shown wearing a white sweater, and is the North Central Region Co-chair; Illinois Chair; and Chicago Archdiocese Chair for Voice of the Poor.
St. Vincent de Paul Contacts
Donna and I met these SVDP leaders and had good conversations with
Ralph Middlecamp, National President (Madison)
Ray Sickinger, National Director of Formation (Providence)
Jack Murphy, National Chair for Voice of the Poor (Atlanta)
Pam Matambanadzo, North Central Region Co-chair, Illinois Chair; and Chicago Archdiocese Chair for Voice of the Poor
Tom Mulloy, National Director of Poverty Programs (Philadelphia)
March for Life and New African American Museum
We arrived last Friday as the March For Life was wrapping up on The Mall. We then toured for a couple hours the new African American Museum and were able too see about half the exhibit space.
Your Servant Leader,