A Fruitful Year for CMN: 2013 In Review

December 14, 2013

candles– December 15, 2013 –

Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty (CMN) lifted the Catholic voice for life in 2013! With support from state Catholic conferences, the Congregation of St. Joseph, the USCCB, and many diocesan offices, CMN reached thousands through our numerous resources, convention exhibitions, press outreach activities, special events, and more.

As we have in years past, CMN focused on creating, testing and sharing new tools for Catholics interested in learning, teaching and engaging others in the movement to end the death penalty. The list of 2013 highlights is long, and here are a few of the best:

Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty
This year Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty was published by Liturgical Press, and it has become one of their top-selling books. The book received outstanding reviews in Catholic News Service, Sojourners, plus many others. The book anchored our November 9th special event at The Catholic University of America, featuring the book’s authors and editors, plus a keynote by Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ. Check out highlights of the conference and order your copy of the book today!

Support Grows for CMN
In 2013 CMN received grant support from the Congregation of Saint Joseph, Our Sunday Visitor, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Allegany Franciscan Ministry. CMN gratefully received generous support from more than 100 individual contributors and religious congregations. CMN also began our special “CMN Steward Circle” – a group of dedicated individuals who contribute to CMN each month. Please help CMN by donating today.

New Resources for Lay Leaders, Teachers, Youth Ministers and Lay Leaders
CMN developed many new materials to assist youth ministers and teachers, including a Facilitator’s Guide, an updated Online Scavenger Hunt, and revised Scripture Case Studies (also available in English and Spanish as part of our High School Restorative Justice Workshop). New curricula are available for high school and middle school teachers, as well. We produced a new “Who Would Jesus Execute” sticker for youth and adults, a popular, thought-provoking giveaway distributed at major conferences such as National Catholic Youth Congress in November. Our new Restorative Justice Workshops for adults and youth are available in English and Spanish  as well – and have been widely downloaded and used throughout the U.S. this year.

Deacon’s Course
CMN is working on a graduate level course for Deacons in collaboration with the National Association of Deacon Directors for continuing education and formation on all of the life issues.

Developing Relationship with Catholic Spanish Speaking Community and the Press
In 2013 CMN undertook a major effort to increase partnerships and opportunities to work with leaders in the Catholic Spanish-speaking community. CMN’s Sr. Ilaria Buonriposi, CMS, has been featured in numerous radio “podcasts” syndicated on Spanish-speaking Catholic radio stations throughout the country. These interviews have had good receptions in Virginia, Texas, Maryland, and Colorado. Many of our materials have been translated into Spanish. Sr. Ilaria and other CMN staff were highlighted in various media, including Religious News, National Catholic Reporter and the Denver Catholic Register. Sr. Ilaria crisscrosses the country, presenting our workshop to Spanish and bilingual audiences, at Catholic pro-life and social justice conferences, parish committee meetings, diocesan and regional meetings.

Mount St. Mary’s Office
CMN continues its vibrant office at Mount St. Mary’s University. Vicki Schieber, Education Coordinator for CMN, and manager of the CMN intern program, organizes special campus events (the latest event highlighted exonerees Kirk Bloodsworth and Ray Krone) and works to educate students about the death penalty and restorative justice. On behalf of CMN, Vicki speaks at numerous events throughout the country. Vicki also helped lead the effort to end the death penalty in Maryland. She conducted a special tour of Kansas as well, where she spoke at various events and met with state legislators and Governor Brownback.

Network of Consecrated Religious Forming
Sr. Ilaria also coordinates an LCWR Google Group for sisters working in ministries related to the death penalty and restorative justice across the country. Information, news, events, and ideas are easily and regularly shared in this venue. CMN is working to “map” sisters working in these ministries nationwide, which will give a clear picture of the major impact of religious communities’ advocacy and ministry. If you or a member of your consecrated religious community work in these areas, please email Cathy Jarboe.

Support for Key States
CMN has had a significant presence in several key states this year, such as Maryland and its successful effort to end the death penalty. Our work has found us in the states of Colorado, Delaware, Nebraska, Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, New Hampshire, Washington, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. CMN has helped to support state activities in various ways including:

  • Direct emails in support of grassroots strategy
  • Exhibiting
  • Educational presentations/workshops/panels
  • Garnering Catholic leadership support
  • Promotion of state activities
  • Forming collaborative partnerships among Catholics/secular organizations
  • Providing resources for state conferences/workshops
  • Developing state-specific Legislative Talking Points
  • Providing media podcasts and interviews
  • Strategic planning for diocesan outreach

CMN Expands Its Capacity Through “Friend” and “Fund-raising”
CMN hosted a “Friend-raiser” and “Fund-raiser” events in Washington, D.C. this fall, to promote our mission and gain financial support for our work. These successful events featured mass with Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, and Monsignor John Ensler. The event also included brunch and keynote speakers Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, and noted spiritual author Rev. Ron Rolheiser. In addition, CMN launched a successful online fundraising campaign this fall, in an effort to raise $50,000 in support of a matching grant provided by the Congregation of St. Joseph.

CMN’s Monthly Newsletter
CMN’s newsletter currently goes to approximately 6,000 people nationally as a communications tool and respect source of information for the national movement to end the death penalty. This year’s newsletters featured CMN’s youth and Spanish-speaking outreach and resources, Respect Life Month, and monthly focuses on the states of Delaware, Nebraska and Kentucky, as well as updates on the CSJ’s matching grant fundraising efforts.

Growing Online Presence
CMN has continued to enhance its online social media strategy. We have nearly 1,000 Facebook likes, and 600 followers on Twitter. We conduct coordinated campaigns of strategic updates about CMN and death penalty news, Catholic leadership quotes, information from national partners, and state and national event announcements. Look for our new Friday series titled #TGodIF (Thank God It’s Friday) that shares interesting death penalty quotes or facts in graphic form.

Proving What We Do is Working
CMN is measuring the reach and outcomes of our workshops and presentations, and we have begun the important work of quantifying our effectiveness. We are also embarking on a collaborative effort with the Department of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America to garner statistical evidence in support of these efforts to show how CMN is changing hearts and minds on this important pro-life issue and related issues of restorative justice.

We look forward to 2014 and the promise of another busy, successful year and hope you will journey with us.

This article was first featured in the December 2013 CMN Newsletter.