Indiana bishops, lawmakers, and Legates team for Catholic public service
On Monday, February 12, a group of Legatus members gathered legislators, businessmen, and clergy at an annual dinner in Indianapolis to celebrate the call to Catholic public service.
This Evening with the Catholic Bishops of Indiana began in 2015 when Tim Rushenberg, vice president of the Indiana Energy Association and member of the Indianapolis chapter of Legatus, began talking with Senator Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso and State Representative Bob Morris of Fort Wayne about putting together a dinner where a handful of legislators could meet the Archbishop, now-Cardinal Tobin. Conversations continued and interest spread, and with the help of Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, Tim soon extended invitations to all 30 Catholic legislators of Indiana. As the event grew, two additional Indianapolis Legatus members quickly stepped up to assist Rushenberg and Tebbe in sponsoring the event: Jim Zink Sr., and the late Tom Spencer and his wife, Gayle. The first dinner in 2015 hosted 48 attendees, including U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, then-Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, and then-Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Since 2015, eight additional Legatus couples have joined Rushenberg in supporting the dinner.
This year’s fourth annual event kicked off on the Monday before Lent with a cocktail reception at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in downtown Indianapolis. After a welcome by Tim Rushenberg, the guests enjoyed an exquisite meal during which all five Catholic bishops of Indiana offered their messages of gratitude and encouragement to the elected officials. During his opening remarks, Archbishop Charles C. Thomson of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis reflected on the noble vocation of public service and thanked those present for their support of the Catholic faith. “I treasure the dialogue we have here together. Thank you for your presence and your witness. You must keep Jesus as the center and be guided by your Catholic faith in all you do as you respond to the call to be missionary disciples.”
As the largest event yet, 48 of the 92 attendees were Indiana legislators and their guests, including Congresswoman Susan Brooks of the 4th District and representatives from the offices of Governor Eric Holcomb, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, and Congressman Todd Rokita.
In speaking of the purpose and impact of this annual event, Rushenberg shared how the evening has provided an opportunity for the legislators to grow in their relationships with one another as well as with the Catholic bishops. “We’ve been very particular about not being political at all, being very nonpartisan,” stated Rushenberg. “It’s just about Catholic fellowship and public service as we gather leaders of the Catholic business community with the bishops and state legislators. It’s about building one another up and being Catholics together. There is no political agenda, no lobbying. The event is there to celebrate being a Catholic in public service and to enjoy fellowship in our Faith. The generosity from Legatus members is the key to this whole event, and I hope that members in other states can carry the banner for this model.”
MARGARET MCGOVERN is Legatus’ Great Lakes Zone Manager.