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March 21, 2011 | Volume 86, Number 11
 

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photo: Virginia Catholics actively seek to influence their state legislators through visits to the lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly Building.Virginia Catholic Conference doubles its e-mail membership

The Virginia Catholic Conference more than doubled the size of its E-mail Advocacy Network during its fall membership campaign conducted in parishes throughout the state.

Well over half of the parishes in the Dioceses of Richmond and Arlington participated in the sign-up campaign, between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1.

The Conference advocates the public-policy interests of Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde and their two dioceses. Most of these new members signed up on November 14 which had been designated Advocacy Sunday or on another Sunday when pastors asked parishioners to complete the enrollment postcards.

Others joined the network by signing up via the Conference’s website at www.vacatholic.org.

The postcard drive was the most successful membership campaign the six-year-old Conference has held. It will continue to seek increased participation by Virginia Catholics in public-policy issues involving the sanctity of life, justice, poverty, family and education.

“We’re deeply grateful to the many parishes that took Advocacy Sunday to heart and encouraged their parishioners to join the E-mail Advocacy Network,” said Jeff Caruso, VCC executive director.

“We know that a large, active membership will go a long way toward ensuring our state and federal governments reflect our concerns for life, justice, the family and the common good.”

In the Diocese of Richmond, 42 parishes returned completed postcards. Another 21 parishes returned postcards in the Diocese of Arlington.

Other parishes promoted the network in other ways, such as by running bulletin announcements encouraging parishioners to use the online sign-up feature on the Conference’s website.

The three parishes returning the most postcards in the Diocese of Richmond were St. Timothy, Tappahannock; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Newport News; and Blessed Kateri Tekawitha, Tabb.

The Virginia Catholic Conference network is entirely e-mail based. The Conference sends e-mail alerts to members informing them of the status of proposed legislation or government actions. Members are invited to contact their legislators using a pre-drafted Conference e-mail message which urges the legislator to take action on a particular issue.

Constituent e-mails urging a particular action make a difference in outcomes on legislation, Mr. Caruso said. While not all network members respond to all Conference legislative alerts, he said the network has the greatest impact when as many members as possible take timely action on issues.

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