2014 Fortnight for Freedom will focus on service to poor
By Bonnie Toombs
The third annual Fortnight for Freedom June 21 to July 4, an initiative to encourage prayer and awareness of religious liberty, will highlight Jesus’ call to serve those in need.
“This is a time when Catholics can unite themselves in prayer to the men and women throughout history who spread the Gospel and lived out Jesus’ call to serve the ‘least of these’ in even the direst of circumstances,” said Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
“Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor,” says Pope Francis. We are all called as Catholics to work with the poor and offer to them the love of Christ through our service.
Those organizations who reach out daily to those in poverty include Catholic Charities, The Lord’s Diner, Guadalupe Clinic, and a Better Choice. Working together to protect our God given right to religious freedom allows us to continue reaching out as Jesus did to the least among us.
The “Fortnight for Freedom” has been conducted as a period of prayer, education and advocacy for religious liberty since its inception. With this theme in mind, we are inviting all Catholics of the Diocese of Wichita to participate in service opportunities available during the Fortnight. Catholic parishes, schools and organizations have been invited to offer special opportunities for service and these will be posted on the Respect Life Social Justice website as they come in.
Now, more than ever, Catholics need to support efforts to bolster religious freedom and seek protections for churches and individual believers. But it’s also important to remember that the fight for the “first freedom” is not an end in itself and is linked to a deeper truth.
“In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ,” says Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.
Why a fortnight (two weeks)? Because we have much as a people of faith and as Americans at stake. Domestic concerns include the federal HHS mandate that requires most employers, including many Catholic organizations, to provide employees with health coverage for sterilization, contraception and drugs that can cause abortions, despite their religious and moral objections. Violators of the mandate face heavy penalties.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue an important ruling this month on the mandate as it affects religious individuals running for-profit businesses. There are threats to religious organizations and businesses caused by the redefinition of marriage and laws that consider objections to so-called “gay marriage” to be illegal discrimination.
Catholic adoption agencies in Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Illinois have been shut down because they cannot in good conscience place children with same-sex couples.
In addition, businesses have faced lawsuits for declining to serve same-sex “wedding” ceremonies. State immigration laws have also threatened charitable outreach and pastoral care to undocumented immigrants, while Catholic medical personnel and others who object to abortion have faced pressure to participate in the deadly procedures, the bishops’ conference explains.
Throughout the Fortnight, we ask that you pray for our nation, for the leaders of our nation, and for our fellow Catholics in the United States and around the world.
Many activities planned for the Fortnight
In our prayerful continuation of a greater respect for all Life, the defense of Marriage as God intended and the protection of our religious freedom, the Respect Life and Social Justice Office has multiple events and activities planned for the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom.
• This year’s Fortnight will kick-off the weekend of June 21-22. Parishes are encouraged to have a holy hour of adoration, a Eucharistic procession, or praying the Litany for Liberty within their parish to mark the beginning of the fortnight.
• On Wednesday, June 25, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, there will be a Holy Hour of Adoration beginning at 5:30 p.m., a rosary prayed at 6:30 p.m., Mass celebrated by Bishop Carl A. Kemme at 7 o’clock, and a reception following in Good Shepherd Hall.
• A 24-hour period of adoration and confession will be offered at Church of the Resurrection for the protection of all human life from conception to natural death, for religious freedom and for the defense of marriage as God intended. Confessions will be heard for a 24-hour-period from Thursday to Friday mornings by Father James Weldon and other priests of the diocese. The period will begin with Mass at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, and conclude with Mass Friday at 8 a.m.
Other fortnight activities
• The monthly fourth Friday Rally for Religious Freedom prayerful protest will take place at noon at the U.S. Courthouse in Wichita at 3rd and Market Friday, June 27. Bishop Carl A. Kemme is scheduled to attend.
• On Monday, June 30, the faithful are invited to join the RLSJ Office for a service day at the Inter-Faith Spiritual Center from 3 to 8 p.m.
• Bishop Kemme will be celebrating Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes in Pittsburg at 6:30pm. Tuesday, July 1.
• On Wednesday, July 2, a “Patriotic Rosary” walk will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Spiritual Life Center.
• Finally, the closing Mass for the Fortnight will be celebrated at 9 a.m. July 4 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Colwich. A Patriotic Rosary and homemade cinnamon rolls will follow.
The Respect Life and Social Justice Office is suggesting ways the faithful of the Diocese of Wichita can pray for life, marriage, and religious liberty.
The office asks the faithful to consider the following way to pray or sacrifice for an understanding of the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, and for the freedom to practice our faith:
• Fast and abstain from meat on Fridays
• A daily rosary
• Prayers of the faithful at Mass
• A monthly holy hour
• Participating in the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom
Want more info?
More information about the Fortnight for Freedom and related events are available online at www.RespectLifeSocialJustice.org.