US Bishops Plan Conference to Focus on Social Action

‘Bearing Witness: Life and Justice for All’

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The annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG), organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 16 collaborating organizations, attracts more than 500 participants from around the country. The conference seeks to equip current and emerging leaders in Catholic social ministry and advocacy to cultivate God’s justice as they engage in their communities and around the world.

The theme of this year’s gathering is Bearing Witness: Life and Justice for All. Convening immediately after several annual pro-life events, CSMG participants will explore the Catholic Church’s call to unity and a consistent ethic of life on issues impacting life and human dignity across the spectrum. The issues to be discussed include those that impact both families as well as the wider communities: the death penalty, human trafficking, restorative justice, maternal and child health, migration, violence, and poverty. Participants will conclude the final day of the gathering with visits to Capitol Hill where they will visit the offices of their elected officials.

When:  January 25-28, 2020
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington DC, 20008

Program and Speaker highlights include:
•   Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago will deliver the keynote address, Our Call to Holiness: Life and Justice for All. His Eminence is a consultant for the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; co-chair for the National Dialogue Initiative with Muslims; chair for the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe; and a consultant for the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
•   Terri Steinberg, mother of a wrongfully convicted prisoner previously on death row, will share a personal testimony following the keynote address.
•   Kim Daniels, J.D., associate director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown Univesity will moderate a plenary discussion highlighting the Church’s leadership and global witness on peace and disarmament, life-saving international assistance, migration, and advocacy with persons in poverty in the U.S.
•   Gerard Powers, director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies for the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and coordinator of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, which includes two dozen episcopal conferences, universities, development agencies and peace organizations. CPN has focused on the Church’s peacebuilding work in Colombia, the Philippines, and central and East Africa, and on issues of reconciliation, peace processes, mining, and nuclear disarmament.
•   Michael N. Okińczyc-Cruz, executive director for the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL) and adjunct professor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago. A faith-based community organizer, Okińczyc-Cruz has worked to address issues related to criminal justice, mental health, corporate bank accountability, immigration reform, refugee rights, public transportation, workforce development and workforce diversity on a local, statewide and national level.
•   Sr. Anne Victory, HM, RN, MSN, chair of the Board of Directors for U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, a national network of Catholic sisters who are addressing the issue of human trafficking across the country. She is currently serving as the director of education for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking.
•   Ronnie Moore, of the Archdiocese of New Orleans will be awarded the 2020 Sr. Marget Cafferty Award. A long-time civil rights advocate, Moore developed the first AmeriCorps program in the country for returning citizens and brought this program, Re-entry 72, to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and continues to mentor, consult, and advise emerging organizations serving the returning citizen population, as well as returning citizens to advocate for removing barriers for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons.

A plenary session from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), “Transforming Communities with Restorative Justice,” featuring representatives from several CCHD-funded community organizations engaged in the work of bringing restorative justice to communities and schools, including Precious Blood Ministries of Reconciliation, in Chicago, IL and Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT).

Joining the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in organizing the 2020 Gathering are numerous other USCCB departments and national Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, Bread for the World, and others.

Most workshops and presentations at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering are open to media coverage. Journalists are invited to download a credential application form and submit it for review and approval.

More information is available online:

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Jim Fair

Jim Fair is a husband, father, grandfather, writer, and communications consultant. He also likes playing the piano and fishing. He writes from the Chicago area.

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