Diocese delegation goes to Tallahassee

ORLANDO | A caravan of Catholics recently made their way to the state Capitol not only to fight for legislation that aligns with Catholic teaching, but to also pray for the men and women in office.

Groups from 15 parishes across the diocese joined leaders from the Culture of Life Office of Catholic Charities of Central Florida for Catholic Days at the Capitol, March 7-9. The event allows attendees to visit with politicians to learn about their position on certain key legislation and to share their own points of view. Bishops from various dioceses also participate.

Seminarian John Triolo (right) snaps a photo with Matthew McClain, aide to Sen. Dennis Baxley. (COURTESY)

John Triolo, a first-time attendee and seminarian from Corpus Christi Parish in Celebration, said he went with no expectations. He thought he would be there for the Red Mass, presentations from lawmakers, and to share Catholic issues with legislators with a bonus tour of the Capitol Building.

Instead, he discovered “It was a mini pilgrimage.”

“It started in the car as we prayed the Divine Chaplet and the rosary – praying for the legislators we were going to meet in the hopes they are attentive to what we believe as Catholics,” he said, adding he appreciated the ability to become more informed as a voter.

Derwin Sanchez is a law school student attending Florida State University in Tallahassee and is a parishioner at Most Precious Blood in Oviedo when he is home. Sanchez said a fellow law student prompted his interest in participating. “The idea of talking to representatives and senators about policies and bills that matter to us Catholics,” is what attracted him.

Among the positive outcomes was the abortion ban up to six weeks being made a bill (HB7/SB300). “I think it’s great,” Sanchez said. “Obviously the ideal is to be protected from conception, but if we can end abortion incrementally, that’s still a worthy goal.”

Sanchez said Capitol Days was more than he expected and appreciated the camaraderie. Sanchez is studying criminal and civil appeals. He hopes to do pro-bono life litigation.

“Meeting with our state legislators allows the opportunity to not only share our Catholic values and stance on life issues, but it also gives us an opportunity to listen to them and pray for them,” said Culture of Life director Leidy Rivas. “These conversations, done with charity and love, may open the doors for conversion of hearts.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, March 09, 2023