The good guys do exist: Catholic senators serving our state

Therese Bussen

The good guys don’t make the headlines very often. So here’s a friendly reminder that, in the political world, they do still exist.

Senators Kevin Priola and Jack Tate are both Catholic family men who were concerned about their community and decided to take action. And most importantly, their faith remains central to their lives and informs their service to the state.31`

This is the first of what we hope will be many profiles of Catholic legislators serving in the State Legislature. To start, here are two of your senators and their most important issues – you might be able to say hello if they go to your parish.

Kevin Priola – Republican, Senate District 25

kevinpriolaSenator Kevin Priola grew up a Colorado native and

attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, graduating with a business degree.

Priola got involved in politics because of his concern for
the state, especially after having children, and the environment they would grow up in, he said.

But his faith is most important.

“I try to live my life informed by my faith and let my faith direct decisions I make serving,” Priola said.

Priola is especially passionate about green industry issues at the Capitol, opposes new taxes and fee increases and believes in the importance of private property rights, especially small businesses. Other issues listed on his website include quality education standards, keeping sexual predators safe from families and reducing traffic congestion with transportation solutions. He also believes in the commitment to the protection of human dignity, beginning at conception and ending at natural death.

He and his wife, Michele, a fifth grade teacher, have four children and live in Adams County. On their days off, they enjoy hiking, camping or skiing. They attend Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Northglenn.

For more information, visit his website, http://kevinpriola.com.

Jack Tate – Republican, Senate District 27

Jack TateOriginally from Nashville, Tenn., Senator Jack Tate has been a resident of Colorado for 18 years. He received an engineering degree from Duke University and graduate degrees from the University of Colorado Denver in finance and marketing. He also completed graduate work in political science and economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Important issues include creating jobs, attending school needs, fixing problems with rising housing costs, energy efficiency, constitutional rights and attending to fixing the healthcare system.

“I am not the guy with all the answers,” Tate says on his website. “Instead, I’m the guy who can listen, understand and work hard to discover those answers and solve problems…We must seek thoughtful solutions as opposed to making ‘pie in the sky’ promises. We should ask that of all politicians.”

Tate and his wife Kathleen, a physician and surgeon in private practice, attend Our Lady of Loreto Parish with their three children and his interests include youth soccer and basketball, literary interpretation, Colorado railroad history, skiing, tennis, golf and fishing.

For more information, visit his website, http://jacktate.org.

Get to know your state legislature leadership

As the Colorado state legislative session opens, it’s good to know who some of the key players are. Just as knowing your local mayor and state governor is important, it’s good to know who’s who in the Colorado House and Senate. It’s also worth noting that the House of Representatives is a Democrat majority, while the Senate is a Republican majority.

House Majority: Democrats by nine seats
65 seats – 37 Democrat, 28 Republican

KC BeckerHouse Democrat leader – KC Becker (D)

District 13
Counties: Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson
Issues: Poverty, Forest Health, Public Health, Energy and the Environment, Death Penalty

Patrick Neville picHouse Republican leader – Patrick Neville (R)

District 45
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Traditional Family Values, Religious Liberty, Education, Right to Work, Health Care, Illegal Immigration, Energy

Senate Majority: Republicans by one seat
35 seats – 18 Republican, 17 Democrat

S-Holbert, ChrisSenate Republican leader – Chris Holbert (R)

District 30
Counties: Douglas
Issues: 2nd Amendment, Life, Environment, Education

Lucia GuzmanSenate Democrat leader – Lucia Guzman (D)

District 34
Counties: Denver
Issues: Education, Energy, Agriculture, Human Rights

COMING UP: Navigating major cultural challenges

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We’re navigating through a true rock and a hard place right now: moral relativism and the oversaturation of technology. In fact, they are related. Moral relativism leaves us without a compass to discern the proper use of technology. And technological oversaturation leads to a decreased ability to think clearly about what matters most and how to achieve it.

Fortunately, we have some Odysseus-like heroes to guide our navigation. Edward Sri’s book Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love (Augustine Institute, 2017) provides a practical guide for thinking through the moral life and how to communicate to others the truth in love. Christopher Blum and Joshua Hochschild take on the second challenge with their book A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction (Sophia, 2017).

Sri’s book describes conversations that have become quite common. When discussing moral issues, we hear too often, “this is true for me,” “I feel this is right,” or “who am I to judge?” We are losing our ability both to think about and discuss moral problems in a coherent fashion. Morality has become an expression of individual and subjective feeling, rather than clear reasoning based on the truth. In fact, many, or even most, young people would say there is no clear truth when it comes to morality—the very definition of relativism.

Beyond this inability to reason clearly, Christians also face pressure to remain silent in the face of immoral action, shamed into a corner with the label of bigotry. In response to our moral crisis, Sri encourages us to learn more about our own great tradition of morality focused on virtue and happiness. He also provides excellent guidance on how to engage others in a loving conversation to help them consider that our actions relate not only to our own fulfillment, but to our relationships with others.

Sri points out that it’s hard to “win” an argument with relativists, because “relativistic tendencies are rooted in various assumptions they have absorbed from the culture an in habits of thinking and living they have formed over a lifetime” (13). Rather than “winning,” Sri advises us to accompany others through moral and spiritual growth with seven keys, described in the second half of the book. These keys help us to see others through the heart of Christ, with mercy, and to reframe discussions about morality, turning more toward love and addressing underlying wounds. Ultimately, he asks us, “will you be Jesus?” to those struggling with relativism. (155).

Blum and Hochschild’s book complements Sri’s by focusing on the virtues we need to address our cultural challenges. They point to another common concern we all face: a “crisis of attention” as our minds wander, preoccupied with social media (2). More positively, they encourage us to “be consoled” as “there are remedies” to help us “regain an ordered and peaceful mind, which thinks more clearly and attends more steadily” (ibid.). The path they point out can be found in a virtuous and ordered life guided by wisdom.

To achieve peace, we need virtues and other good habits, which create order within us. “With order, our attention is focused, directed, clear, trustworthy, and fruitful” (10). The book encourages us to rediscover fundamental realities of life, such as being attune to our senses and to aspire to higher and noble things. The authors, with the help of the saints, provide a guidebook to forming important dispositions to overcome the addiction and distraction that come with the omnipresence of media and technology.

The book’s chapters address topics such as self-awareness, steadfastness, resilience, watchfulness, creativity, purposefulness, and decisiveness.  These dispositions will create order in how we use our tools and within our inner faculties. They will help us to be more intentional in our action so that we do not succumb to passivity and distraction.  Overall, the book leads us to consider how we can rediscover simple and profound realities, such as a good conversation, periods of silence, and a rightly ordered imagination.

Both books help us to navigate our culture, equipping us to respond more intentionally to the interior and exterior challenges we face.