Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur Celebrates NETWORK Lobby’s Legacy of Connecting the Common Good to Politics
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
July 26, 2022
A Legacy of Connecting the Common Good to Politics is Cause for Thanksgiving
We are called to be a sacrificial people. Each person must imbue that call with meaning. The network of parishes, dear priests, Catholic school teachers and administrators, church societies and quarterly church events build community at the parish level. This becomes even more important as modern societies become more transient and often rootless. And that is why it is especially a blessing that, thanks to the vision of women religious – for the past 50 years – this connection has also been represented on Capitol Hill.
I recall well when I was first elected to Congress and sworn in, a dear, diminutive NETWORK Sister by the name of Sr. Bridget O’Malley made a concerted, warm effort to welcome me to Washington. Her kindness was a blessing in those early foundational years. I remember many conversations and lunches with her as she addressed serious topics — B-1 bombers, child hunger, and housing for families in need.
Together, I recall we attended a White House Holiday gathering. With our noses almost pressed against glass cabinets, we admired the White House china collection from all presidential administrations and, of course, the mammoth Christmas tree.
A few years later, a polite, take-charge NETWORK Sister dropped by our office and gingerly but authoritatively took a seat in our office waiting area. She wore sturdy leather shoes with thick soles to manage the miles she walked over her three decades as NETWORK’s top lobbyist. She generally staked out a position outside Members’ offices where she could be certain a Member would walk by. This is how I met the brilliant, indefatigable, good-humored Sister Catherine Pinkerton. A Sister of St. Joseph who left a legacy of education and human development wherever she served – Sr. Catherine was a high respected, indeed revered, lobbyist.
The Roman Catholic faith is a central pillar of my being, particularly as an American of Polish heritage. First, through the intergenerational history of our family, it was the Roman Catholic faith that offered our ancestors worth and hope — during times of bondage, repression, punishment, war, illness, and harrowing economic downturns. Our faith gives value to each human life and to the limitless possibilities of each person and family. This belief animated the tireless work of Sr. Catherine, and it remains with the people who carry on that legacy of advocacy today.
Even when Sr. Catherine retired and returned to live with her community in River’s Edge in Cleveland, she still offered hospitality and counsel to her visitors. When our Congressional district was stretched across Ohio to include Sister Catherine’s residence, she welcomed me to rest there when I was required to stay overnight. That was so extremely thoughtful and appreciated, as our lumbering coastal district requires a more than two-hour drive from one end to the other.
The Catholic Church’s teachings over 2,000 years of human experience provide anchors for values and promote understanding. The preferential option for people experiencing poverty, the enduring call to serve others, and litany of saints remain noble and timeless. It is a faith calling with discipline and love.
And just as faith without works is dead, we owe so much to the NETWORK Lobby for making our faith come alive in the halls of power. Their commitment to the common good has helped ensure that love and care for our neighbors finds expression in federal policy and are lived out more fully on the peripheries and throughout society.
Warmest congratulatory wishes to NETWORK and your faith-filled, devoted membership on your 50th anniversary! Bravo! Onward!
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur represents Ohio’s 9th Congressional District. She has served in Congress since 1983 and is the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. This essay originally appeared in Connection, Second Quarter 2022 – “Networked for Faith and Love: A Legacy of Connecting the Common Good to Politics is Cause for Thanksgiving ” *Special 50th Anniversary Edition*).