June 20, 2013
Worcester Diocese To Mark Fortnight for Freedom
Evening Vespers to begin 14 days of Prayer for Religious Liberty June 20, 2013, WORCESTER, MA – From June 21 through July 4, 2012, the Catholic Church throughout the United States is calling for prayers, fasting, education and public action to support Religious Liberty. The Diocese of Worcester will mark the beginning of the period with a Vespers Service at the Cathedral of St. Paul on
Friday, June 21 at 7 pm. Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, S.T.D. will be the presider and Fr. Richard Reidy will be homilist. Representatives from around the diocese are anticipated and the public is invited to attend.
The fortnight period was called for by the U.S. Bishops in light of recent mandates by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring religious employers to pay for contraception, sterilization and abortive medications which are contrary to the faith. This mandate is seen as a violation of the first amendment protection for the free exercise of religion. Recent accommodations announced by the President do not address the many institutions and organizations operated by the Catholic Church and its affiliates who are, in essence, practicing their faith by feeding the hungry, assisting the poor, or healing the sick. Nationally, more than 40 institutions and dioceses filed federal lawsuits seeking restoration of these religious liberties.
Parishes around the diocese have been asked to encourage parishioners to observe the Fortnight for Freedom in whatever way they can. Individual parishes are also sponsoring prayer gatherings. For example, in Sturbridge, a public hour of prayer to support religious liberty will be held at St. Anne-St. Patrick Parish and St. Anne Shrine on Sunday, June 30 following the Noon Mass.
Bishop McManus will celebrate a closing Mass for the Protection of Religious Freedom on Monday, July 1 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Stephen Church, 355 Grafton St., Worcester. It will be followed by a presentation in the church hall by Frances Hogan, Esq. on “St. Thomas More: A Model of Public Virtue for Our Time.”
Prayer resources for those who wish to participate privately are available online at the diocesan website, worcesterdiocese.org.