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Students Travel to Washington for Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

January 30, 2020

Three St. John Fisher College students were chosen to attend the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, “Bearing Witness: Life and Justice for All,” held January 25-28 in Washington, DC.

Michael Lilholt ’23, Maddy Tibbits ’23, and MacGregor Winegard ’22 traveled to Washington, D.C.

The Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development organized the annual Gathering in collaboration with 10 other departments of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and 16 national organizations. It was open to people of any faith.

Michael Lilholt ’23, Maddy Tibbits ’23, and MacGregor Winegard ’22 attended the conference, along with Father Kevin Mannara, CSB, director of the Office of Campus Ministry. The four-day event had over 650 participants, including 97 students from various colleges and universities throughout the United States, who attended the conference's Young Leaders Initiative.

Lilholt said the conference’s theme of advocating for peace and justice was apparent throughout different presentations. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, called for a new form of humanism, one in which we are more supportive of our brothers and sisters. Lilholt also said that Terri Steinberg, the mother of a young man on death row, delivered a powerful personal testimony calling for an end to the death penalty. Finally, political commentator David Brooks of the New York Times spoke on a wide variety of issues surrounding peace, most notably focusing on the concept of being more inclusive.

Fisher students with Fr. Kevin Mannara outside of Congressman Joe Morelle's office.

On the final day, participants of the conference went to Capital Hill to speak with their representatives on domestic and international issues. The Fisher contingent visited the office of Senator Chuck Schumer and the office of Congressman Joe Morelle, where Fisher student Natalia De La Esprie is currently serving as an intern and alumnus Nick Weatherbee ’05, serves as Rep. Morelle’s chief of staff. During both visits, students engaged in advocacy using skills learned at the conference. They were able to take a stand on how to use peace and justice to achieve this new form of humanism.

 The 2021 conference is set to take place in Virginia.