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March 6, 2008 Edition

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Eye on the Capitol
Diocesan youth ministry

Women better served by just wages,
not abortion

photo of John Huebscher

Eye on the 

John Huebscher 

During the legislature's "busy season" it is not unusual for the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) to weigh in on more than one issue on the same day. Wednesday, Feb. 27, was such a day.

In the Senate, the Committee on Health, Human Services, Insurance, and Job Creation held a public hearing on Senate Bill 398, a bill that repeals Wisconsin's law banning abortions. The law has gone unenforced since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade. But the law remains significant for it would go back into force if and when the Supreme Court overturns its ruling in Roe.

Protecting the vulnerable
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Thus it was important for the WCC to oppose the bill and witness once more to the value and dignity of human life. As our associate director for Respect Life and Social Concerns, Barbara Sella, reminded the committee, over the past century Wisconsin has led the nation in protecting the vulnerable from exploitation. She noted that a law protecting unborn children is part of that legacy.

Sella went on to remind the senators that abortion is most prevalent among young, poor, and unmarried women. She observed that Catholic teaching affirms that the solution to poverty and illegitimacy is not abortion, but love and responsibility, justice and solidarity. Women and their children deserve the right not only to a safe birth, but also to a safe and dignified life.

In this context, she argued, public policies should safeguard sufficient nutrition, housing, education, health care, and employment - rather than defending abortion.

'Walked the walk' on raising wage

A few yards away, another legislative committee heard testimony on Assembly Bill 274 to increase the minimum wage. The Catholic Conference submitted written testimony in support of that bill. In so doing, the WCC "walked the walk" in terms of offering women something more than abortion as a response to the challenges of raising a family.

The WCC's testimony recalled that 70 percent of the workers who would benefit from a hike in the minimum wage are adults. Indeed, nearly more than 90,000 of our state's children have parents who earn the minimum wage. Moreover, many minimum wage earners are employed in the service sector, especially in the retail trade, leisure, and hospitality industries. Most of these workers are women.

Clearly a bill to raise the minimum wage lacks the moral urgency of a bill intended to secure access to abortion. But to the extent that a better wage offers a pregnant woman additional economic security for herself and her child, it gives her another reason to say "yes" to life for her child.

Too often, supporters of abortion rights accuse pro-life citizens of only caring about human life before it is born. They would do well to read the WCC's testimony against Senate Bill 398 and in favor of Assembly Bill 274.

John Huebscher is executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference in Madison.

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Diocesan youth ministry
A journey of the heart

The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us.

-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

The great majority of Catholic youth in the Madison Diocese do not eagerly prostrate themselves before the Lord of the Universe, Son of David, Word made Flesh.

Yet, I have seen with minimal evangelization, young people eagerly and willingly engage in the worship of the Blessed Sacrament.

Reaching youth with the truth

Youth often get really excited about things they enjoy doing and are found complaining when unable to do those things. So, here we are, beholden of the reality that the Eternal Word, the Son of God, Who comes to us, remains with us, presently exists as an Eternal Gift of Himself in the One, Holy, Sacrifice of the Mass, Heart and Soul: the Eucharist.

Yet, there appears to be evidence to suggest that we fail to believe that this Most Sacred Heart of Jesus lives and abides with us. Might I suggest that our youth, in general, have assimilated themselves amidst the progressive and post-modern culture, unaware of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus beating in the very backyards of our nearest parish church?

"All who believed were together and had all things in common"(Acts 2: 44). Nothing is more important than the truth we find in the unconditional love of our families. Yet, our youth are often times being swallowed alive, by a culture that says there is no truth. They are longing for the truth that speaks to their heart.

Just as we come home after a long day to the safety and unconditional love of our parents, we should want to return to the unconditional love of our supernatural Father, by receiving his son in the Eucharist (Jn 6: 44).

Jesus: The Blessed Sacrament

What is "youth ministry"? Simply stated, it could be understood as the ministry which communicates Jesus Christ to all youth.

Now, as Catholic Christians, we will, first and foremost, always teach our youth that our Lord Jesus is most present to us in the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacrament of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus is the "source" and "summit" of all we know to be true, for Jesus is the Son: He is God the Beloved. And so, we understand the ministry of the Church to be the expressed participation in the Life of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Sacrament.

Given this radical thought animating our beliefs (God gives Himself through a Sacramental Presence from Whom we draw Life), it is no wonder that to be fully Catholic is to be hidden in this great Mystery of the Eucharist, to journey into the Heart. It is this journey that has produced what I believe is a need for a community of my peers to help me bring this vision to fruition. Alone, I could not succeed, but together with a shared vision and the communion of heart, I know that great things will be accomplished.

Cor ad Cor Loquitur - 'Heart speaks to heart'

Beginning Thursday, March 13, at 11 a.m., there will be a monthly convocation for all those who work in "youth ministry" for the Madison Diocese (DREs, Youth Ministers, etc.). The group entitled, Cor ad Cor Loquitur (a.k.a. "The Cor") actually originates from the thought of John Henry Cardinal Newman and serves as a fitting expression of what is to be found as the "source" and "summit" of all youth ministry: the Heart of Jesus, the Eucharist. And where we find the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus we will always find the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

Please consider joining me, Ron Garcia, diocesan coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, at the Bishop O'Connor Pastoral Center on the third Thursday of each month to follow.

"The Cor" is designed to help network and facilitate youth programs throughout all parishes in the Madison Diocese respecting the variety of their youth ministry/religious education programs.

"The Cor" will begin at 10 a.m. with silent Eucharistic Adoration at the BOCC, followed by an hour for professional development/networking, Mass at 12 noon, and lunch in the cafeteria to follow.

Ron Garcia is coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Madison.

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