About 1,000 Catholics from across New York will meet with legislators in Albany March 8 during the annual Public Policy Day, which will also feature a Mass with the state’s bishops and workshops for youths and adults.
The annual event is organized by the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s bishops in matters of public policy.
Bus transportation from several areas of the Diocese of Rochester and lunch are offered at no cost to local participants. Last-minute registrations are being accepted for the event as space is available.
The event also includes Mass at the newly renovated Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception near the Capitol. Participants also will attend workshops on promoting advocacy in dioceses and at parishes.
During the day, Jack Balinsky, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, will receive the J. Alan Davitt Award for Exemplary Service from the state bishops. Davitt, who is deceased, was a former executive director for the state Catholic conference.
During meetings with legislators, Catholics will oppose proposals that they say would increase abortion rates across the state. Catholics will advocate for maintaining accessibility to Catholic schools and equity for all children; maintaining supports to enable low-income families to live in dignity; maintaining the health-care infrastructure and health coverage for low- and moderate-income individuals; reforming the juvenile justice system; enacting a comprehensive conscience-protection bill that protects religious liberty; and maintaining society’s traditional understanding of marriage.
With Gov. Andrew Cuomo beginning a term as governor, Catholics are trying to determine what his top priorities will be, but concerns about some budgetary cuts top the list of issues as well as issues of protecting life, said Marvin Mich, director of social-policy research at Rochester’s Catholic Family Center. Cuomo, for instance, has proposed eliminating funding to the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation, which is the only state-funded abortion-alternatives program.
"We’re always trying to judge what the new governor’s going to push," Mich said.
Locally, participants were to meet for training on the issues in preparation for the trip at 3:30 p.m. March 2 at Catholic Family Center, but if participants were unable to attend that training session, they should let Catholic Charities staff know.
Representatives from the Diocese of Rochester also will take the opportunity to hand deliver petitions signed during Public Policy Weekend Feb. 12-13. The petitions advocated for maintaining subsidies for child care and transportation to allow people to maintain employment.
"We recognize that this is a tight budget, but this kind of funding keeps people working and paying taxes," said Mich, who noted that it also affords people the dignity of participating in work.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To sign up to participate in Public Policy Day, visit www.nyscatholic.org and click on the Public Policy Day icon, or call Marvin Mich at 585-546-7220, ext. 7021, or Brigit Hurley at 585-546-7220, ext. 7099.