Purvis: Christ equips Catholics to ‘have no fear’ at Capitol

| March 10, 2017 | 1 Comment

Gloria Purvis, chairwoman of Black Catholics United for Life and co-host of “Morning Glory” on EWTN Radio, speaks to participants of Catholics at the Capitol March 9 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Gloria Purvis rallied a conference room full of Catholics after they received their marching orders for the day from Minnesota’s bishops and Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Despite a late night after speaking at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul March 8, and not having a restful sleep at the hotel, Purvis said, “I ain’t no ways tired, and neither are you.” The phrase served as motivation throughout the day of education and advocacy.

More than 1,000 Catholics from Minnesota’s six dioceses who gathered at the RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul March 9 for Catholics at the Capitol started the day with Mass and heard from Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the inaugural event of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, based in St. Paul.

Purvis, chairwoman of Black Catholics United for Life and co-host of “Morning Glory” on EWTN Radio, told the crowd as they prepared to meet with legislators at the State Capitol that they serve a mighty God and are willing to “speak the Gospel truth in the public square,” even if they were fearful.

“I am willing, and you are, too, and God knows that. And because you are willing, he has qualified you. As they say, ‘God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called,’ and that is you,” said Purvis, also a wife, mother and Third Order Carmelite from the Archdiocese of Washington.

Purvis began her presentation leading the crowd with the St. Michael the Archangel prayer. She highlighted two of the three legislative priorities on the day’s agenda — supporting school choice in the form of scholarship tax credits and opposing physician-assisted suicide through alternatively improving the state’s palliative care.

She spoke about J.J. Hanson, a Marine combat veteran with the same type of brain cancer as Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old who chose to end her life through Oregon’s assisted suicide law in 2014. Before her death, she served as a “right-to-die” advocate.

“J.J. is offering his [life] in service of the truth,” Purvis said. … “He was telling me, ‘You know, as a soldier, Gloria, when I see a bad guy, my instinct is to charge him, to stop him. That’s what we do. That’s what we’re supposed to do.’ And you know what, we are soldiers, too, except we’re soldiers of the cross. And I hope that when we see darkness, our instinct is to charge it and bring the light of Christ and not to be afraid. And that is exactly what you’re going to be doing today when you go to those legislators and you advocate for truth, beauty and goodness. Don’t be afraid, and you can do this because: ‘I ain’t no ways tired,’” the crowd responded.

Purvis also shared the story of how her mother went into a coma in 2005 and was pronounced brain-dead. After months in the hospital, doctors had told her father it was time to remove her mother from life support.

But, “God is the divine physician, and she’s walking, talking, driving a car and playing poker to this day,” Purvis said to applause. The experience gave her family a chance to be a witness to God’s glory, she added, an experience of which society often robs people.

Roxanne Hedlund from Carlton in the Diocese of Duluth related to Purvis’ story. She’s an activities director at a nursing home and has sat with residents in their final moments. Recently, her father and mother-in-law died; her mother-in-law died without anyone beside her, but she was able to be with her father when he died.

“So, to watch that truly to the end of life was amazing,” said Hedlund, 51, who took the day off from work to attend Catholics at the Capitol with her husband, Steve, who serves as a deacon at their parish. “I work in health care, and I think it’s very important that people are treated with dignity until their dying breath.

“I’m really interested in the palliative care and the educational piece that it brings to the community,” she added, “whether you’re a professional in the medical field or a lay person.”

In emphasizing the importance of school choice, Purvis said she believed the “four Rs” — reading, ’riting, ’rithmatic and religion — were instrumental in her education. Although her family wasn’t Catholic, Purvis attended Catholic school and decided to convert at age 12.

“Catholic education gave me a lens through which I filter the moral challenges of our day,” she said, adding that it’s what brought her to the faith. “It really helped me understand that I follow Jesus Christ.”

She reiterated that Catholics at the Capitol participants were gathered for the day to give glory to God at the state’s seat of power.

“That’s why Minnesota is going to come back to the truth. That’s why Minnesota is going to be pulled back away from being detached from reality when it makes public policy,” Purvis said. “And it’s because you are going over there to witness to the truth.”

“When you choose to follow Christ, there’s going to be some suffering, there’s going to be some rebuke in some way, shape or form,” she continued. She referenced when the apostles were told not to preach Jesus’ name, but they were undeterred, despite being beaten; instead, they rejoiced. “Let that remind you that you were found worthy to suffer for Christ. And that is a blessing.”


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