The annual Catholic Days at the Capitol, a two-day advocacy event that provides opportunity to fulfill the responsibility to participate in political life, was held February 16 and 17. Prayer, nourishment, opening remarks and an explanation of two priority bills, were the focus on Tuesday afternoon. The 2016 issues of concern were Termination of Pregnancies and Unanimous Jury in Capital Sentencing.
On Wednesday, participants had a full day of meeting with legislators, touring the historic capitol building, observing the lawmaking process in action, posing for
with their respective bishops, and enjoying a luncheon and awards ceremony.
Two lawmakers, Representatives Larry Ahern (R-Seminole) and Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mt. Dora), were presented with Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops'
(Defender of Life) awards which recognize ongoing, courageous and valiant defense of the sanctity of life.
One of the more lighthearted aspects of this year's Catholic Days events had untold numbers of people reaching for their cell phone cameras. The "Holy Father" spent the day on the plaza level of the Capitol smiling and posing for all who wished to snap a quick photo. A life-size, cardboard image of Pope Francis brought smiles to the faces of people young and old who had business in the Capitol on Wednesday. With the exception of a quick visit to the office of Rep. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), the pope kept a tireless vigil, seemingly propped up by the fervor of the day, near the Catholic Days display table.
Lay faithful were not the only busy people during Catholic Days. The bishops of Florida were also occupied. Both Senate President Andy Gardiner and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam had meetings with our shepherds in order to discuss issues of concern to the Church.
Although most Catholic Days attendees were already headed home when the Senate opened its session at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, some were still getting in their final meetings with legislators. No doubt some of those remaining were able to see and hear the opening prayer offered by Fr. Matthew Busch in the Senate chamber.