The Incarnate Word Foundation hosted a gathering and luncheon on November 8 at Piper Palm House in St. Louis’s Tower Grove Park to hear and meet with Mary J. Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK, Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.
The topic of the event was “Fratelli Tutti: A Better Kind of Politics: Women Religious Writing it with Their Lives.” It was based on Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical on fraternity and social friendship titled Fratelli Tutti.
Mary Novak provided an overview of Chapter 5 of the encyclical, which explores how a new politic can work for the common good. She reviewed the last 50 years of NETWORK and other Catholic advocacy organizations and how they are building a new agenda grounded in Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching, Catholic Social Tradition, and the lived realities of ordinary people.
Sister Madeleine Munday, Province Leader for Mid-North America, attended the luncheon. When reflecting upon the event, she said, ”In addition to Mary Novak’s review of Fratelli Tutti, Chapter 5, I appreciated her sharing the history of NETWORK. This lobby of Catholic Sisters began in April 1972 as part of congregations’ response to Vatican II.
Mary’s slides showed NETWORK’s growth from two Sisters starting with $189 in borrowed office space, to today’s staff of 18 lobbyists. Good Shepherd’s National Advocacy Center enjoys a warm relationship with NETWORK. Brigid Lawlor, RGS, NAC’s founder, was an intern at NETWORK, and lobbyist Sister Marge Clark, BVM, served on NAC’s Advisory Board for many years.