OLYMPIA – It’s not too late to join the annual pro-life and social justice events that bring Western Washington Catholics together at the state Capitol.
On January 22 — the anniversary of the legalization of abortion — hundreds of Catholics will stand up for life by attending the Mass for Life, followed by the Washington State March for Life and meetings with legislators.
“It’s a peaceful, positive event at the capital every year,” said Noreen McEntee Hobson, president of Washington State March for Life. The ecumenical event is rooted in Catholic social teaching, she said: “Every life is valuable from conception to natural death.”
On February 7, Catholics will again converge on the capital for Catholic Advocacy Day. The event, with the theme “Catholics for the Common Good,” includes meetings with state legislators to advocate for just and equitable policies. Issues may include housing, economic justice, access to health care, education and the environment.
“We’re called to speak powerfully without rancorous political dialogue,” said Patty Bowman, executive director for the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center, one of the event’s sponsors.
Two Masses, one March
This year, the archdiocese’s Mass for Life — with the theme “Unique from Day 1” — will be held in two locations: at 9:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church in Lacey and at 10 a.m. at St. Michael Church in Olympia.
St. Martin’s University, which has hosted the Mass in previous years, was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict, according to Teresa Chudecke of the archdiocese’s liturgy office.
Because an estimated 1,500 people attended last year’s Mass, two parishes had to be used for this year’s Mass, Chudecke said. “It’s too big for one sanctuary.”
The archdiocese is encouraging those traveling from the north to attend the Mass at Sacred Heart, while those coming from the south are encouraged to attend at St. Michael, she added.
Celebrants will be Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg.
Both Masses will conclude in time for people to travel to the capital for the March for Life. Participants will gather at the Winged Victory monument at 11:15 a.m.; just before noon, they will march to the steps of the Capitol (a distance of a quarter- to a half-mile) to rally and hear from pro-life legislators.
Afterward, marchers are encouraged to visit their legislators’ offices to peacefully advocate for life. (Read more on the March’s Facebook page.)
Chartered bus transportation is available in some areas.
Lobbying for social justice
Social justice issues are the focus of Catholic Advocacy Day on February 7. The event begins with Mass at St. Michael Church in Olympia, followed by briefings on this year’s legislative issues and examples of advocacy making an impact.
Then participants will meet with state legislators from their districts to advocate for these issues and share their experiences.
“It’s always really powerful to relate policy issues to personal stories,” Bowman said. “We find those personal stories are very effective.”
Catholic Advocacy Day is free, and free bus transportation is available through the registration process. Buses will pick up participants in Bellevue, Bellingham, Burlington, Chehalis, Everett, Federal Way, Kelso/Longview, Kirkland, Renton, Seattle/West Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver.
Event sponsors are IPJC, the Washington State Catholic Conference, Catholic Community Services/Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington and St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle/King County.