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You don’t have to learn everything there’s to know about Capitol Hill  to effectively represent the CSMG priority issues before your members of Congress.  Join us on Sunday, February 12 at 1:30 p.m. for the Capitol Hill Visits 101 workshop. Learn how to effectively steer your meetings with congressional offices and sharpen your skills with interactive role-playing exercises.

If you can’t make our workshop, watch our Hill Visits 101 webinar for tips on how to effectively advocate with your members of Congress.

Here are some additional resources to learn more about congressional advocacy:

For questions and information about the CSMG Hill visits, don’t hesitate to ask, or contact  Virginia Farris at 202-541-3182.

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By now you and your state captain have already made contact and have a game plan for the Hill visits during CSMG. Your state captain is responsible for scheduling your state delegation’s meetings with both of your Senators, and will let you know when these appointments are.

Don’t forget that you are responsible for scheduling a meeting with your Representative. Before you schedule your meeting though check with your state captain if there are others in your state delegation who live in the same congressional district. Your state captain will ensure that only one person sets up a meeting with your Representative.

Visit our website to find your Representative’s contact information so that you can schedule your meeting. Try to schedule it for Tuesday, February 14 between 1-5 p.m. and make sure it doesn’t conflict with other meetings you have scheduled. Ask to meet with the Member him or herself or, if the Member isn’t available, ask to meet with the Member’s staff responsible for appropriations.

Questions about CSMG Hill Visits, check out our Hill visits section of the CSMG landing page.  Still have questions, contact us and we’ll assist you!

Speak up for poor and vulnerable people, here at home and abroad, and make a difference! One of the most important aspects of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is your visit with your members of Congress on Tuesday, February 14, 2012.

Don’t worry–you won’t have to make these visits alone. Every CSMG participant is part of a delegation made up of fellow CSMG participants from your home state. Each state delegation is led by a volunteer state captain. Your state captain should be in contact with you soon after you register. If you haven’t yet heard from your state captain, please contact us for more information.
CSMG partner staff is ready to assist you if you’re representing your state by yourself and prefer accompaniment on your Hill visits. Please contact us to request assistance.

Each year hundreds of Catholic social ministry leaders from throughout the country gather, pray and get the inside scoop on various topics of social concern at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering.  Not only that, but we take the opportunity to put our faith and learning into action by visiting our representatives and senators on Capitol Hill!  This year should be extra interesting, as we prepare to raise Catholic values in the middle of an election year.  The topic of this Social Ministry Gathering is, “Faithful Citizenship: Protecting Human Life and Dignity, Promoting the Common Good.”

In the last couple of years, the CSMG team has gotten a taste of the world of social media, writing blogs and Tweeting; but this year, we’re diving in, adding a Facebook presence!  The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Facebook page, will be the CSMG online hub, where posting of relevant and appropriate blog entries, pictures, announcements, questions, and interesting materials are encouraged.  For those of you who prefer Twitter, several CSMG staff members will be Tweeting from the Gathering, and we will be encouraging CSMG participants to Tweet as well, by using the hash tag, #CSMG.

There is an important social media role for all interested Catholics- those that will be present, and all those that couldn’t travel to the Nation’s Capital.   Take the first step by joining the CSMG’s social media vehicles and then, participate in the virtual conversation.

The USCCBLive Twitter feed is available on the CSMG landing page along with links to the CSMG blog.

The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is just around the corner, join us today!

Faithful Citizenship:  Protecting Human Life and Dignity, Promoting the Common Good

February 12-15, 2012 – Washington D.C.

On behalf of our 14 national Catholic partner organizations, we invite you to join us in Washington, D.C. for the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, this upcoming February 12-15, 2012 at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.

Register online Today!. . .   Early registration cost is $295.  Don’t wait–the discounted rate ends December 23, 2011.   **In an effort to streamline the registration process, we are only accepting registrations via our online system.

CSMG 2011 Opening Plenary

The 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering began Sunday afternoon with the Opening Plenary given by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Archbishop emeritus of Cape Coast (Ghana).  In his plenary entitled “The Legacy of Rerum Novarum: The Current Challenges of Catholic Social Teaching,” Cardinal Turkson reflected upon the encyclical Rerum Novarum, issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891.  He discussed its relevance to Catholic Social Teaching today and its relationship to Caritas in Veritate, the third encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Turkson spoke of God’s Word in scripture as the source of the Church’s mission in society.  Sacred scriptures are a revelation and reflection of God’s commitment to the world and become a model for those who seek to promote the Church’s mission in the world.

As we come together for the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC, we are at the epicenter of the discourse on what makes a just society.  Our presence here symbolizes the struggle between the Church’s principles and the legal debate on what we mean by justice and “justice that is social.”  In keeping with the theme of this year’s gathering, Cardinal Turkson emphasized our focus on promoting a just economy in a time of financial difficulty for the US and the world.

Cardinal Turkson described our relationship to Rerum Novarum as a legacy, a heritage, “a family treasure kept and passed on from generation to generation.”  This legacy, he said, is passed on in two ways: through the observation of how it has engendered a tradition of social ministry in the church and through the observation of how we do the work that we do to help write and preserve the legacy.

The world has changed a great deal since 1891, and our approach to social justice has evolved with it.  Cardinal Turkson pointed out that Catholic Social Teaching “illuminates with unchanging light the new problems that are constantly emerging in human society.”  He emphasized the powers of Church and State as two separate authorities, each supreme in its own sphere.  However, we must acknowledge that we exist in the world together.

The Cardinal went on to discuss the five “competencies” of Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate.

  1. To face the difficulties of the present time not with ready-made answers but with a realistic attitude and discernment.  This means that we must scrutinize the signs of the time, viewing them in light of the gospel and recognize what constitutes injustice at every level.
  2. To base our work upon our fundamental values and a new vision of the future.  This is a competency of conversion; we must begin with knowing ourselves and being willing to change.
  3. To take up with confidence new responsibilities and a new mission, recognizing that the more we strive to achieve a common good for those around us the more we love our neighbors.  Our vision of this new mission is shaped by God’s salvific plan for the world, and at the center is the human person.
  4. To be open to profound cultural renewal and in doing so to show confidence and hope.  We believe that a more just and peaceful world is possible; we must not give in to negativity.  The poor do benefit from champions of solidarity, ecology can be made sustainable, and a world of greater communion is possible.
  5. To commit to new rules and new forms of commitment with coherence and with consistence.   Cooperation, collaboration, networking and solidarity. We are called to work with other Christians, non-Christians and even nonbelievers in pursuit of social justice.  We must respect our differences and coordinate our efforts.  Christians are called not only to responsible involvement in political and social life but also to go a step further, offering a vital contribution to the laborious pursuit of justice.

We too are a part the legacy of Rerum Novarum.  Leo XIII considered the involvement of Catholics in social justice critical for the formation of his encyclical; even before the encyclical, Catholics – lay and religious – were at work in pursuit of justice.  He recognized the role that lay people working independently played in the formation of his encyclical.

In the US, many new problems have emerged since the time of Rerum Novarum.  Archbishop Tukrson gave examples such as the Catholic response to racial discrimination and the USCCB’s role in helping our country to understand context of the Cold War.

The work of lay people has been impactful.  The two-way dialogue of reflection and action has made a significant impact on the world and places the Catholic Church at the center of social change.  We must renew our commitment to this approach in the promotion of social change.

What is this legacy of Rerum Novarum?  We who take part in Catholic Social Ministry are involved in promoting social justice in the name of the Church.  We are the heirs of this tradition of social justice and the great-grandchildren of Rerum Novarum. We contribute to the writing of the book of the Catholic social doctrine.

Archbishop Turkson affirmed that we continue to do Rerum Novarum and Leo XIII very proud.  We must continue to affirm, protect, and uphold the human person and his dignity.  We pray that the Holy Spirit inspires us not to hold on to the past models that we know and have tried before but instead to know ourselves and be open to new ways of promoting social justice in light of God’s teaching.