By Abraham Joven
SACRAMENTO—On April 24, a group of religious and lay Catholics from the Diocese traveled to Sacramento to support the California Catholic Conference’s annual Catholic Advocacy Day. This event is meant to have Catholic faithful engage their legislators by presenting positions that align with Catholic values on various public policy measures.
This year, representatives from Our Lady of the Valley, Hemet; St. Adelaide, Highland; St. John the Evangelist, Jurupa Valley; St. Mary, Fontana; St. Peter and St. Paul, Alta Loma; Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, San Bernardino; St. Joseph, Fontana; and St. George, Ontario participated in 17 legislative meetings in Sacramento. Advocating on bills that run the gamut of Catholic Social Teaching from the dignity of life, poverty, immigration, and restorative justice, this event serves as both an opportunity to put into practice Faithful Citizenship and formation centered on Catholic Social Teaching, as well as an opportunity to evangelize.
Speaking about the unique experience of working so closely with legislators, St. Peter and St. Paul parishioner Karen Hein said, “We gained an experience in seeing all of the work that our legislators put in. It was the first chance in my trips up that I had legislators and staff share these valuable insights.”
Victoria Ciudad-Real from St. Mary Parish said the trip to Sacramento convinced her that engagement of the faith community with legislators can result in change.
“It was valuable to know that even in the smallest of ways—even in simple conversations—that God’s Spirit is working,” she said. “We may sometimes feel that solutions to these problems may be just out of reach, but He gives us these opportunities to manifest His justice.”
Among their meetings, the Diocesan delegation was able to meet face-to-face with four members of the State Assembly that represent parts of the Diocese: Eduardo Garcia (Coachella Valley), Eloise Gomez-Reyes (San Bernardino, West End), Chad Mayes (San Gorgonio Pass, High Desert), Jose Medina (Riverside, Moreno Valley), and State Senator Joshua Newman (West End). These encounters provide a unique opportunity to engage in vigorous, challenging, but ultimately fruitful conversations on the issues that resonate with our people in the here and now.
Deborah Cummins of St. Peter and St. Paul noted: “I thought of this experience as a conversation, so it was less intimidating. Everyone was so welcoming and nice - even people with whom we disagreed. I think we gave people a lot to think about.”
Abraham Joven is the Director of the Diocesan Ministry of Advocacy and Justice for Immigrants.