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  • Jun
  • 14

Diocese to open Fortnight with vespers Friday

Posted By June 14, 2012 | 12:50 pm | Lead Story #1
By Tanya Connor Bishop McManus is to mark the national Fortnight for Freedom in the Worcester Diocese Friday, June 22, with vespers and adoration, and close it July 2 with a Mass, which will be followed by a talk. Fortnight for Freedom is a national campaign, supporting religious liberty, designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This 14-day period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action begins June 21, the vigil of the feast of SS. John Fisher and Thomas More, who were martyred for standing up for their Catholic faith against the English government. The fortnight ends July 4, our country’s Independence Day. Dioceses throughout the country are participating in Masses, vigils and prayers during the fortnight.

By Tanya Connor

Bishop McManus is to mark the national Fortnight for Freedom in the Worcester Diocese next Friday with vespers and adoration, and close it July 2 with a Mass, which will be followed by a talk.
Fortnight for Freedom is a national campaign, supporting religious liberty, designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This 14-day period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action begins June 21, the vigil of the feast of SS. John Fisher and Thomas More, who were martyred for standing up for their Catholic faith against the English government. The fortnight ends July 4, our country’s Independence Day. Dioceses throughout the country are participating in Masses, vigils and prayers during the fortnight.
The fortnight is especially a response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring most private health insurance plans, including those sponsored by many religious organizations, to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs. The Catholic Church opposes these procedures and drugs and also opposes this attempt to force it to pay for them for its employees.
The mandate is to take effect this August. Some religious entities which oppose it have been given an additional year to determine how to comply with it.
“Religious liberty is the first liberty granted to us by God and protected in the First Amendment to our Constitution,” says the bishops’ website www.usccb.org. “It includes more than our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the rosary at home. It also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.”
The Worcester Diocese’s opening event for the fortnight is a service of solemn vespers, eucharistic adoration and Benediction at 7 p.m. June 22 at St. Paul Cathedral. Bishop McManus is to preach.             Citing the need for prayer for the protection of religious liberty, the bishop has asked priests to attend the vespers with delegates from their parishes. Others are also encouraged to attend, said Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Respect Life Office.
Bishop McManus is also to preach for the diocese’s closing of the fortnight, at a Mass at 7 p.m. July 2 at St. Stephen Parish in Worcester. Following the Mass, Christopher Klofft, assistant professor of theology at Assumption College, is to give a talk titled “Freedom and Truth: What it Means to be Catholic and American Right Now.”
Bishop McManus has asked all parishes to participate in the fortnight in some way, Mrs. LeDoux said. She said she sent parishes suggestions for things they can do, and will continue sending materials.
Several parishes have already planned events and others are expecting to participate.             Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish is planning a multilingual rosary and Benediction at 6:30 p.m. June 24 at its Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in West Brookfield. At 7:30 p.m. Mrs. LeDoux is to give a talk about religious liberty and the mandate in Dugan Hall there.
St. Bernadette Parish in Northborough is to hold a holy hour “to pray for religious freedom from the HHS mandate” at 7 p.m. on June 26.
A group that organized the recent Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally is planning a daily rosary from 3-4 p.m. during the Fortnight for Freedom, according to Sandra Kucharski. They are seeking the necessary permits  to make the rosary hour a public one.
Father Adam Reid, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Webster, said that at the close of every Mass during the fortnight he will invite worshippers to join him in a prayer. The prayer is on a prayer card from the Respect Life Office which will be distributed throughout the church. After the fortnight, he will encourage people to take the card home and continue to pray. He said he will also have a table with other materials for people to take home.
“There might be other ways in which we try and highlight the issue of the health care mandate during that fortnight,” he added.
Other suggestions Mrs. LeDoux sent parishes included fasting, adding a petition to the Prayer of the Faithful, distributing USCCB bulletin inserts and holding discussions. Suggested as discussion starters are: “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” a statement by the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and “Dignitatis Humanae,” the Vatican Council II Declaration on Religious Liberty. The Catholic Free Press will publish a list of related events in its calendar section.

 

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: (CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)