By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published June 12, 2014
ATLANTA—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called for a Fortnight for Freedom—14 days of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedoms.
The 2014 Fortnight for Freedom, with the theme of “Freedom to Serve,” will take place from Saturday, June 21, to Friday, July 4. The theme of this year’s Fortnight focuses on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church’s teaching.
The two-week period is a time when the liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power, including St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.
Several parishes have announced Masses and events in conjunction with the observance:
St. Oliver Plunkett Church, 3200 Brooks Drive in Snellville, will have a patriotic rosary in the prayer garden at the church on Sunday, June 29, at 10:45 a.m., immediately following the 9:30 Mass. The Boy Scouts will participate.
St. Brendan the Navigator Church,4633 Shiloh Road in Cumming, will be holding perpetual adoration praying for religious freedom. Adoration will take place in the St. Sebastian Chapel beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 23, through 8:30 a.m. on Friday, July 4,except during liturgical Mass celebrations.
An all-day adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will be held at St. Stephen the Martyr Church, 5373 Wydella Road in Lilburn, on Tuesday, June 24, and Tuesday, July 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. to pray for protection of religious liberty.
St. Thomas More Church, 636 West Ponce de Leon Ave. in Decatur, will pray the Prayer for the Protection of Religious Freedom, a prayer intention and the rosary every day during the Fortnight for Freedom after daily Mass and the weekend Masses. The first Mass to include the prayer and intentions will be the 5:30 p.m. vigil Mass on Saturday, June 21. The weekday Masses are at 5:30 p.m. Mass on Friday, July 4, is scheduled for 9 a.m.
St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro will have Fortnight for Freedom prayer cards in the church’s gathering space, intercession in prayers of the faithful throughout the two weeks, and a link on the parish website to the USCCB statement on religious freedom.
At Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City, volunteers will set up a table on Saturday, June 21, with information provided on religious freedoms in the United States and around the world. Prayer booklets, cards and lists of movies that tie in to freedom will also be available. Intentions for Fortnight for Freedom will be offered at each Mass.
St. John Neumann Church in Lilburn will recognize the Fortnight for Freedom with a daily patriotic rosary after Mass every day. Volunteers will decorate the parish campus with flags and signs and distribute prayer cards.
Parish volunteers or coordinators may visit the USCCB site at www.fortnightforfreedom.org to download daily reflections with readings as well as the Litany for Liberty and the Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty. The site also lists 14 ways parishes may observe the Fortnight, including sponsoring a faith-based service day, hosting a religious liberty speaker, leading a Eucharistic procession or organizing an Independence Day picnic as a closing celebration.
The national Fortnight for Freedom opening Mass will be Saturday, June 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, Maryland. The celebrant will be Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.
A closing Mass will be on July 4. Both Masses will be aired on EWTN.
The U.S. bishops have outlined current threats to religious liberties, which include the mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services for sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs; the government’s ending of Catholic Charities contracts to provide adoption or foster care services due to refusal to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite sex couples; laws that forbid “harboring” of undocumented immigrants; and discrimination against small church congregations wanting to rent public schools in New York City for weekend use.
Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services and Christian college campus groups are also being cited as threats to religious freedom at home.
For more information on the Fortnight for Freedom in the Atlanta Archdiocese, please check the website at www.archatl.com/clife/fortnight.