Inside this issue
  Florida Respect Life Conference, October 24-25, 2014  
  On Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25, the Diocese of St. Petersburg is hosting the 2014 State Respect Life Conference, themed Masterpieces of God's Creation, at the Bethany Retreat Center in Lutz, Florida. 

The weekend begins at 1:30 p.m. on Friday with an optional pre-conference event focused on post-abortion healing; the conference itself begins at 6:00 p.m. with Mass celebrated by Bishop Estévez of St. Augustine. Topics by this year's guest speakers include IVF, adoption, death row, human trafficking, and more. Our host, Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg, will celebrate a vigil Mass on Saturday. 
The combination of top speakers and the beautiful facilities at the Bethany Center promise to offer a most successful event. 

A Youth Leadership Conference on Saturday, October 25 for high school students coincides with the adult program.

More information and registration is available online. Deadline to register is October 9. Register today, space is limited!


  As Courts Rule, Bishops Uphold Marriage Between a Man and a Woman  
  Several lawsuits have been filed in Florida courts challenging our state's constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife. In many of these cases, which seek the recognition of same-sex marriage in Florida, the judges have found the current law to be unconstitutional. Decisions by the courts that would allow same-sex partners to marry in Florida or such unions performed in other states to be recognized have been stayed while appeals are pending.

In response to a recent U.S. District Court ruling, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) stated that the judge's decision to reject marriage as the union of a man and a woman "fails to adequately consider that marriage unites a man and a woman with any children born from their union and protects a child's right to both a mother and a father."
The FCCB further acknowledged, "With its unique beauty and goodness revealed, the public has a worthy interest in protecting this institution in law as a means to ensure humanity is both nurtured and strengthened." 
Despite recent court decisions, the bishops "will continue to promote the truth of marriage, its foundational significance to society, and its importance to children." It is widely anticipated that a decision on state marriage laws will ultimately be made by the U.S. Supreme Court, and we are hopeful that the true nature and meaning of marriage will be upheld.


  Rallying for School Choice at St. Andrew Catholic School  
  On September 16, a special pep rally for parental empowerment in education was held at St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando. The event drew 350 participants including the student body for the elementary school along with the faculty and staff and various school choice supporters. James Herzog, FCCB, associate director for education, explained how school choice complements district school options in a single system that seeks to provide the best education to Florida's children. "We see this as an effort to look out for the common good of all school children," Herzog said. The FCCB joined Step Up For Students, the Florida Alliance for Choices in Education and the school administration in presenting a special "Children's Champion" award to Senator Kelli Stargel, District 15, Lakeland. 

Senator Stargel was praised by Herzog and others for helping to remove the "prior-public attendance" requirement in grades 6-12 from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program during the 2014 legislative session. "This means that certain parents of children in grades 6-12 now enjoy the same type of school choice as that experienced by parents of children in kindergarten to fifth grade," Herzog said. "Legislators like Senator Kelli Stargel helped to make this possible, and we are grateful for them." The program is serving 68,000 students in nonpublic schools throughout the state during the current school year. The scholarships are valued at $5,272 per child whose parents meet basic income guidelines from the federal free- or reduced-price lunch program.


  Candidate Questionnaire Project Continues  
The FCCB launched the Candidate Questionnaire Project on June 30, 2014 by inviting 315 federal and state candidates in the Primary and/or General Elections to respond to eight questions on issues of importance to Catholics that are likely to come before lawmakers in the upcoming session. 

Now that the Primary Election has concluded, the FCCB continues to solicit responses from General Election candidates who have until October 7 to respond. Response summaries organized by diocese will be available for parishes to distribute on October 9. 
Candidate responses are posted on the FCCB website as they are received at: Check back often as additional responses are received and posted.


September 18, 2014

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Words of Wisdom

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendor of true love, to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division: may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may the approaching Synod of Bishops make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God's plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer.

Prayer of Pope Francis for the Synod of Bishops on the Family, October 2014

A worldwide day of Prayer for the Synod of Bishops is planned for Sunday, September 28, 2014. Learn More.

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