By Pat Shea
Associate editor

The annual Catholic Lawyers Guild Continuing Legal Education (CLE) luncheon was held on Oct. 28. This year’s event, held at the Genesee Grande Hotel in Syracuse, had a 60 percent increase in attendance over last year’s event.

The purpose of the luncheon is to offer Catholic Lawyers an opportunity to “think outside the box” in regards to various key topics as well as earn NY CLE credits. This year’s attendees earned 2.0 credits in Practice Management and .5 NY CLE credits in Ethics. The CLE credits are provided by Hancock Estabrook, LLP, a NYS certified and accredited provider of continuing legal education.

This year’s speakers included Thomas G. Renker, Esq., general counsel and chief legal officer of the Diocese of Rockville Centre; Carlos Ortiz Miranda, associate general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a lecturer at the Catholic University of America and Columbus School of Law; Cora A. Alsante, leader of Elder Law & Special Needs Practice for Hancock Estabrook, LLP.

Renker spoke to attendees on issues of religious freedom and religious exceptions to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate requiring private health insurance plans to include coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs, devices, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.

Miranda, who served as the Chair of the Religious Worker Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, spoke to the group at length in regards to changes, challenges and obstacles facing immigration law today.

Alsante discussed the importance of informing and educating Catholics of all ages on issues surrounding end-of-life.

“It’s important that people understand advanced directives, what transforms into medical orders, what a health proxy is and the difference between ordinary and extraordinary means when it comes to end-of-life,” stated Alsante. “We [lawyers] need to educate our communities and encourage them to have a conversation with those they love about their wishes for the future.”

The feedback from attendees regarding this year’s event was extremely positive and plans are already underway for next year stated Father Charles Vavonese, one of the organizers for the event.

“This event enhances an attorney’s commitment to his or her faith as well as providing an opportunity to get professional legal credit that is required for their license,” stated Father Vavonese. “We have enjoyed working with Hancock Estabrook and appreciate their continued cooperation with the Catholic Lawyers Guild.”

For more information on the Catholic Lawyers Guild, contact Father Charles Vavonese at (315) 470-1491.

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