During an early morning gathering at Sacramento’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, participants were welcomed by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, president of the CCC; Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Luong of Orange; and Ned Dolejsi, CCC executive director. Each referred to Catholic social teaching, quoted from Pope Benedict’s “Deus Caritas Est“ encyclical, and cited Scripture (including Matthew 25) which urges Catholics to engage in issues affecting human life and dignity, make the poor a top priority, and promote the common good.“This is an emerging movement particularly on the heels of redistricting in 2012,” said Dolejsi. “Catholic Advocacy Day is only one vehicle for Catholics to be informed, put our faith into action, and be part of the Catholic Legislative Network (CLN).” This year’s key issues are:—CalWORKS and CalFresh Program (AB 6): The bill will simplify the application process by repealing requirements related to fingerprint imaging and quarterly reporting.—Youth Sentencing (SB 399): The measure will allow for the review and re-sentencing, after 10-25 years of incarceration, of some youth who were sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed before the age of 18.—California Dream Act of 2011 (AB 130 and 131): This bill would enable a person who has graduated from (or attended, for three or more years) a California high school to participate in any financial aid programs administered by the State of California beginning Jan. 1, 2012, with eligibility based on meeting certain conditions.—Making abortion providers subject to the same cuts as other health care services that provide services to the elderly, blind and disabled.After the morning’s briefing, breakout sessions, advocates headed across the street to the State Capitol to meet with their elected officials and/or staffs. By 3 p.m., the faithful gathered for a debriefing session and share their feedback. Most seemed pleased with the overall experience particularly with the new, strategically focused format designed to be a process to engage their fellow parishioners back home, rather than an isolated, one day event. “It is satisfying to be a voice for the voiceless,” said Lupita Ortiz from St. Catherine of Siena in San Bernardino, “particularly those who pay taxes yet are unable to vote.”With 22-plus state legislative districts within the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it is essential for local Catholics to engage their respective members, particularly via the CLN. For information on becoming more involved, visit the California Catholic Conference website at www.cacatholic.org,or contact your local social action director at www.archdiocese.la/ministry/justice/peace/staff.html.José L. Gutierrez is an intern with the archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace.