‘Get out and vote’ gears up at diocesan parishes

September 11, 2012 at 9:42 AM


A parish-based, nonpartisan voter registration drive is gearing up at parishes in the Diocese of Allentown this month.


Bob Houlihan, left, and Jim Ruoss, both seated, members of the Knights of Columbus Light of Christ Council 8726, conduct the nonpartisan voter registration drive after the 10:30 a.m. Mass Sept. 8 at St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring. (Photos by Richard Patrick)

Bishop of Allentown John Barres announced that in response to the call to faithful citizenship, the Bishops of Pennsylvania have authorized a parish-based, nonpartisan voter registration drive at parishes in September.

To bring this effort to fruition, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) partnered with the Knights of Columbus, who are conducting the drive at parishes with the pastor's approval.

Pastors may select the best weekend, or multiple weekends, in September for their parish drive. When the drive is complete, all voter registration applications will be mailed by the individual or collected at the parish for mailing or delivery to the appropriate authority.

St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring held the drive after each of the Masses the weekend of Sept. 8-9. Knights of Columbus Light of Christ Council 8726 conducted the drive at the parish.

"There was a steady flow of activity around the sign-up table after the Masses," said Msgr. James Treston, pastor of St. Ignatius, noting a good number of knights were on hand to conduct the drive.

An announcement was made before the last hymn at each Mass informing parishioners of the drive, which was held on the portcochere outside the church, making it easily accessible. "It was a nice day, we had ideal conditions. Everything went well," Msgr. Treston said.

Patrick Hockenberry, director of parish stewardship and the Bishop's Annual Appeal in the diocesan Secretariat for Stewardship and Development, is diocesan coordinator of the effort.

"The Knights of Columbus in the Allentown Diocese have embraced the call for faithful citizenship and to conduct voter registration drives," said John Fitzpatrick, state treasurer, Pennsylvania Knights of Columbus State Council.

"Every active council is involved with the parish or parishes they serve across all of the deaneries. Even some of the fourth degree assemblies have stepped in to assist."

Fitzpatrick said one council has a program to help people get to doctor appointments and will use their "Knights on Wheels" to provide transportation assistance to get to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Other councils will be offering similar assistance through sign-up sheets at their drive.

"I think the response to 'get out and vote' has been great, and I look forward to the Knights of Columbus continuing their many charitable missions in a united effort throughout the diocese," Fitzpatrick said.

Key dates for the 2012 elections

  • Tuesday, Oct. 9 – general election registration deadline.
  •  Tuesday, Oct. 30 – last day to apply for civilian absentee ballot.
  •  Friday, Nov. 2 – last day for county board of elections to receive voted civilian absentee ballots.
  •  Tuesday, Nov. 6 – general election.

Parishes that have scheduled the drive for the weekend of Sept. 15-16 include St. Mary, Kutztown, where the Faith Justice Committee is conducting the drive with materials provided by the knights.

Other parishes that have the knights-fueled drive slated for that weekend are Our Lady of Mercy, St. Anthony of Padua and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, all Easton; St. John Baptist de la Salle, Shillington; St. Joseph, Limeport; St. Peter the Fisherman, Lake Harmony; St. Catharine of Siena, Reading; St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown; Sacred Heart, Palmerton; and Annunciation BVM, Catasauqua.

St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield will have a mini-registration drive Sunday, Sept. 16 and is working with the pro-life group to finalize plans for later this month.

Parishes that have scheduled the drive for the weekend of Sept. 22-23 include Sacred Heart, Bath; St. Ann, Emmaus; Holy Family, Nazareth; St. Benedict, Mohnton; and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Mahanoy City.

Parishes that have scheduled the drive for the weekend of Sept. 29-30 include the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown; Sacred Heart, Bath; St. Thomas More, Allentown; St. Anne and Assumption BVM, Bethlehem; St. Katharine Drexel, Lansford; St. Jerome Tamaqua; and Assumption BVM, Slatington.

Holy Guardian Angels, Reading is conducting the drive for three weekends in September. Notre Dame of Bethlehem has had an ongoing effort since August.

Parishes that have conducted a drive Sept. 1-2 or Sept. 8-9 include Our Lady of Mercy; St. Rocco, Martins Creek; St. Michael the Archangel, Minersville; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bethlehem; St. Joseph, Summit Hill; St. Ann, Emmaus; St. Joseph, Jim Thorpe; and St. Paul, Allentown.

Knights of Columbus councils in District 39 have three registration drives in their district covering the St. Clair and Tamaqua areas. Councils in District 40 have six drives covering the Pottsville and Frackville areas.

To download a voter registration application, learn where your polling place is and other important information about voting in Pennsylvania, visit website www.VotesPA.com.

Category: LOCAL