CV NEWS FEED // Americans tend to think about the politicians and staff workers on Capitol Hill as divided, split into two parties, or even hostile towards each other; but in the Congressional Catholic Staff Association, members from different backgrounds, parties, and offices come together and prove that politics doesn’t always have to divide.
In an interview with CatholicVote, Shea Throckmorton, who serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the CCSA chair of events, said that the group is now “thriving.”
CCSA’s numerous projects include a weekly Bible study in one of the House offices, where people can spend 30 minutes in prayer before work starts for the day. During weeks when the House is in session, CCSA hosts a rosary group as well. CCSA’s latest initiative was the launch of a mentorship program for Catholics on the Hill.
“We’re very on fire for the faith,” Throckmorton said. “People’s Catholic identities are definitely the priority.”
Throckmorton explained that CCSA’s mission is to build community among other Catholics on the Hill by developing common ground in spite of different partisan affiliations.
“CCSA is like a magnet that attracts people from all different backgrounds who are trying to make a difference,” Throckmorton explained.
But the relationships built through CCSA give Catholics support to better respond to God’s call.
“It’s really easy for Catholics on the Hill to get discouraged about our country and the way things are headed,” he told CatholicVote. “We want them to know that there are good and like-minded people here too.”
According to Throckmorton, CCSA now has 500 people on its email list, which covers announcements, event promotions, and information about spiritual opportunities.
As CCSA’s chair of events, Throckmorton is in charge of engaging well-known speakers to give talks to D.C. Catholics. The lectures, which range from unpacking St. Augustine’s “City of God” to incorporating the Benedictine “Ora et Labora” [prayer and work] charism into politics, provide Hill staffers with opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth.
CCSA has many upcoming speakers this September and October, including Sister Mary Madeline Todd, OP, Fr. Gregory Pine, OP, and Fr. Dominic Legge, OP.
While some of their topics may be controversial, such as Sister Mary Madeline’s talk on the feminine genius that touches on the Catholic response to “gender ideology,” Throckmorton said that it’s important to remember that since CCSA is bipartisan, “we’re trying to look at these issues through the lens of the Church, not politics.”
Throckmorton hopes that Fr. Gregory Pine’s talk on the philosophy of love and desire will remind Hill staff members of their original desire to persevere through the challenging work of politics as a response to God’s call.
Another upcoming talk, “What Makes a Law Good?”, is not only sponsored by a practicing Catholic elected member, but the speaker, Fr. Dominic Legge, worked as an attorney at the Department of Justice before his ordination.
“He will speak both as a spiritual father, but also as someone who has personal experience in the field,” Throckmorton said.
Throckmorton emphasized that at its core, CCSA is just a group of Catholics hoping to “live as best we can.”
“We undergo very difficult work on the Hill. We work long hours, and it’s not the most financially lucrative work, but we all believe in the cause,” he continued:
But when you’re working way past six o’clock most nights, it can be really easy to get weighed down and lose that perspective and remember that call that the Lord gave you—the call that led you to the place that you’re in. Hopefully, what CCSA is doing is restoring that perspective and giving people opportunities to grow spiritually and intellectually, and sustaining the people of the church who are trying to make a difference in the world.
“We encourage others to come and get involved,” Throckmorton said. “We want to show people what we’re doing. The fact that there is a congressionally recognized Catholic association in D.C. that’s thriving should give hope to people.”