We hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving. Time to get back to work!

One of our top priorities during the upcoming legislative session is to encourage passage of an Education Savings Account (ESA) program in Iowa. Click here for a very short video about how ESAs work for families.

ESAs will help all parents pay for the learning environment that best suits their child’s needs, including helping to pay for nonpublic school tuition. The value of an ESA would be some portion of the state per-pupil funding, currently about $6,000. It operates a little like the open enrollment program that is available for some Iowa students to switch from one public school district to another, except now they could switch to a nonpublic school. Under our proposal, ESAs would be available to current Catholic school parents as well.

Many Catholic schools in the state have been inviting legislators to visit this fall. Several schools are also hosting parent meetings to explain ESAs and encourage contacts with legislators. If you’re interested, perhaps you could host a meeting at your school (or even home) as well. Let us know how we can help.

SIGN UP FOR INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL ACTION

It’s time to sign up for the Iowa Institute for Social Action! Registration is now live at iowasocialaction2017.eventbrite.com. The Institute will prepare leaders to advocate for the social concerns of the Catholic Church.

This year’s event will be held on Jan. 15-16 at Saints John and Paul Church in Altoona, IA. The event costs $20 for adults; free for students.

We are very enthusiastic about the keynote address “From the Lens of Faith…Being Advocates for the Common Good,” by Brian Corbin, Executive Vice-President of Catholic Charities USA. He will be able to bring a Washington perspective to us right before the inauguration.

Please note: Iowa Right to Life has cancelled the Midwest March for Life on Jan. 14, 2017. The Mass for Life with the four bishops of Iowa has been rescheduled for 5 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15 at Saints John and Paul at the conclusion of the first day of the Iowa Institute for Social Action. Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport will be the homilist.

SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRANTS

The U.S. bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign has created a resource in response to the many questions staff members have been receiving post-election about how to support immigrants and refugees. Click here for the resource in PDF format.

CARDINAL DOLAN ENCOURAGES WORK AGAINST ASSISTED SUICIDE

“Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick. But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination. This is completely unjust.”

Cardinal Dolan advised that doctor-prescribed suicide must now be opposed with “renewed vigor.” In 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on assisted suicide. Here in Iowa, we anticipate fighting a bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide during the next session.

ICC’s 50th ANNIVERSARY

The Iowa Catholic Conference marks its 50th anniversary on Wednesday. The bishops of Iowa established the Iowa Catholic Conference “as an instrument by which the dioceses of Iowa could act mutually and cooperatively in matters of interdiocesan or statewide interest.”

This fall we’ve been going back to the files to share some information from previous ICC newsletters. Here’s a note from April 2006: “Governor Vilsack signed SF 2219 into law this morning during a press conference at the Capitol in Des Moines. With his signature, law enforcement officials will be better trained to identify and help victims of human trafficking. Human traffickers will now also be charged with a felony under state law. The passing of SF 2219 is a big step to ending human trafficking in Iowa.”