Archbishop Charles Chaput visits UVA

 

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

We were very honored to have a visit in Charlottesville from Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., on February 18th, as a speaker at the St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at the University of Virginia.  Archbishop Chaput gave a very good talk entitled City Upon a Hill:  Augustine, John Winthrop and the soul of the American Experiment Today.  Archbishop Chaput has been a great advocate for American Catholics to know their role in being faithful citizens, and it is part of everyone’s call to holiness to be involved in making a free and just society.

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia's St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thiught

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia’s St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thought

Archbishop Chaput is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, and was the second Native American to be ordained bishop in the United States, and the first Native American archbishop. He chose as his episcopal motto: “As Christ Loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25)  Archbishop Chaput has served as a bishop of South Dakota and worked in the church for Native American issues, and spoke about Indian Spirtuality and its good and bad points, and why many Native American’s are drawn to the love of Jesus Christ.  Archbishop Chaput has also served as bishop of Denver, and presently in Philadelphia.  I find it most interesting that he as a Franciscan Capuchin, and his fellow bishop (Cardinal Sean O’Malley) were both called to “rebuild the church” in two of the most challenging dioceses in America (Philadelphia & Boston) that were affected by scandal and corruption.  I am extememly proud of my fellow Franciscan bishops, and that Pope Francis, in choosing his name, to take on this task of renewing our beautiful Catholic Faith in the spirit of St. Francis “to rebuild God’s house.”

Archbishop Chaput was just two weeks earlier called by Pope Francis to join the new Pontifical Council on the Laity.  Archbishop Chaput spoke in his talk of the great importance of the laity to help with the church in evangelization, prayer, support, and active participation amongst everyone, including those in the secular world.  Archbishop Chaput said he does not know yet what he will be doing on this new council, but looks forward to the challenges ahead.  I was pleased to meet him after his talk, and wished him well and said that he will be in my prayers.

I encourage you to view his entire talk, because I can’t do it justice in my writing, and the Q&A afterward in link below.

LINKS

Video of Archbishop Chaput’s Talk

St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at UVA

Archbishop Chaput’s website at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Pontifical Council for the Laity (Vatican)

Previous Blog about Archbishop Chaput at the Fortnight for Freedom Mass in DC

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Greater Good Technology – NEW ministry

Greater Good TechnologyGreater Good Technology is a new ministry developed by Catholic Web Services to help give disadvantaged people access & training in technology.  We have developed a successful pilot program here in our hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.  Greater Good Technology’s program aims to help homeless people, by giving them a fair seat at the table to search for a job.

 Empowering those transitioning from homelessness

Today’s society requires modern communications to be on a level field for employment.  We train a Lead Training Mentor that targets 12 other men and women transitioning from homelessness to train.  The lead trainer receives a Google Chromebook with which to train his trainees and receives payment for each trainee they graduate that is verified by our online training system at Catholic Web Services.   Each trainee receives a Google gmail account, Google Voice number for email, begins to create a resume, and receives training on how to make calls online.

Successful Pilot

Catholic Web Services is successfully working with Howard, our first Lead Training Mentor, in the Charlottesville pilot program.  Our Director of Technology, Carl Stacy became friends with Howard through a local mentoring program. Howard wanted a way to give back to the community, the same community that had provided him assistance in his time of need, and was very enthusiastic about sharing his new technology skills with others to help them find employment.

We were thankful for an initial grant from the Lions Club, but need your help to grow this deserving ministry.  Please contact us if you are interested in bringing Greater Good Technology to your community.

 

Charlottesville’s Support Network for Homelessness

One of the reason’s this program works well is because it adds to a great support system of people and agencies who provide a network of services helping the homeless gain independence, housing, and employment.   Charlottesville’s system of supports has grown over the years and is getting better through the cooperation of our great provider groups: PACEM, The Haven, Lion’s Club, The Salvation Army, and county and city social services.

PACEM

PACEM is a grassroots organization that coordinates space and volunteers to provide shelter for individuals in our community who are homeless.  Charlottesville currently has no permanent shelter for the homeless, so the religious community united to help in the cause of sheltering the homeless during the cold months of the season.

More than sixty congregations in the Charlottesville area take turns opening their doors – setting up cots, serving warm evening meals, and providing companionship. Through PACEM, congregations of many faiths and community groups come together to address the need for shelter in our community.  The name, PACEM, is an acronym for (People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry). Pacem is also a Latin word meaning peace.

 

Director Tom Shadyac visiting his friends at The Haven

Director Tom Shadyac visiting his friends at The Haven

The Haven is a safe and welcoming place for the homeless and very poor of Central Virginia to be during the day. Opened for business on January 18, 2010, The Haven provides this community with a central place to receive vital services and get connected to social service providers.  The Haven came into being through the generosity of UVA alumni & Movie Director Tom Shadyack.  Tom came back to Charlottesville in 2006 to film the movie Evan Almighty, a hit comedy retelling of the Noah’s Ark story, and he gave proceeds of the film to buy an old city church to make it a “haven” for the poor and homeless.

The Haven provides meals, short-term storage, showers, laundry facilities, computer access, living room, community garden and referrals to on-site service providers offering substance abuse assessment, mental health peer support, financial literacy and counseling, legal assistance, public housing applications, resume development and job search coaching, health advocacy and navigation, social services such as food stamp screening.  It has been a wonderful asset to bring all the services under one roof, and Greater Good Technology is working to help with technology training to give these men and women an opportunity at a better life.

Help Us GROW! — YOUR SUPPORT NEEDED

We would like to continue this program and grow it to other communities, but we need your support.  Your help with financial support, and through prayers are very much appreciated.   We are seeing a great need to help the homeless and your support in any way helps us to keep our ministry going.  We are looking for people who could donate any size donations which are very much appreciated.  We are fundraising now through Christmas with an indiegogo crowd-source funding campaign.  You can contact Catholic Web Services Director, John Clem, if you have any questions:

John Clem, Director of Catholic Web Services

Office (434) 202-4297

e-mail:  jclem@catholicws.com

Please click here for secure donation to Catholic Web Services using Indiegogo Campaign & PayPal to support Greater Good Technology ministry

indiegogo for Greater Good Technology

LINKS

Greater Good Technology (Catholic Web Services)

PACEM (People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry)

The Haven

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Habitat for Humanity — Charlottesville

Habitat for Humanity

SUNRISE PARK

Today marked the completion of six new Habitat for Humanity Homes in a wonderful rebuilt neighborhood called Sunrise Park.   This Habitat Humanity project is unique, as it is the first entire trailer park replaced in America with affordable housing for its residents.  My parish, Church of the Incarnation, helped contribute $60,000 and provided over 1,000 hours of labor toward construction of one new duplex home serving two families.  With the help of other faith communities and business partners, this neighborhood has been transformed into a lovely place to call home for many families who provided their own sweat-equity and investments in making this a reality.  This has been so successful Habitat for Humanity is now using this model to replace a larger 100 acre trailer park called Southwood.

Sunrise Trailer Court, Charlottesville Virginia (before Habitat for Humanity project)

Sunrise Trailer Court, Charlottesville Virginia (before Habitat for Humanity project)

Sunrise Trailer Court used to be a neighborhood of 16 trailers, and its residents agreed to work with Habitat for Humanity to offer them affordable housing in a co-housing neighborhood model offering apartments, duplex homes, community center and market rate homes.  Local architects offered plans that provided, affordable, durable, green, and beautiful buildings for the site.  The residents were not displaced during construction, but were offered the new apartments built on-site, while their homes were constructed.

SunrisePark

 

The families who moved into new homes today gave heartfelt thanks to Habitat for Humanity and all the community members who make it happen.   Rachel Mayo is a new homeowner from the new house our parish built, and wrote for today’s dedication:

Rachel Mayo (new homeowner)

Rachel Mayo (new homeowner)

“I would like to thank the people from Habitat who made this dream possible for me and my family.  There are no words to express to you how grateful I am.  I always wanted to own my home and never thought it was possible until people at Habitat gave me hope.  Thank you all for everything that made this happen.”  Rachel Mayo

Mayo & Fuentes Families Homes (New duplex home built by Habitat for Humanity)

Mayo & Fuentes Families Homes (New duplex home built by Habitat for Humanity)

 

New community center, offering important gathering point for neighborhood residents.

New community center, offering important gathering point for neighborhood residents.

 

“Our Catholic tradition, eloquently expressed by Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, insists that shelter is one of the basic rights of the human person. The Second Vatican Council has said with great directness: ‘There must be made available to all men everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing, and shelter…” ["The Right to a Decent Home," USCCB, 1975]

Parishioners from Church of the Incarnation after workday this past April

Parishioners from Church of the Incarnation after workday this past April


Please consider volunteering or contributing to Habitat for Humanity to help in this worthy cause to bring affordable housing to those in need in your community.  There are more links at the bottom of this blog for contacts with Habitat for Humanity in your community.

Steel sculpture of Habitat for Humanity "Family" Logo, made from old trailer's I-Beams

Steel sculpture of Habitat for Humanity “Family” Logo, made from old trailer’s I-Beams at Sunrise Park

THE HABITAT STORE

Another great community asset is the Habitat Store here in Charlottesville.  It offers new & used building supplies at 25-75% off retail prices.  Many local contractors recycle their building supplies here and assist others with affordable housing.  Volunteers help run this store which offers many great products to anyone interested.

The Habitat Store

The Habitat Store

SPONSORS for Sunrise Park with Habitat for Humanity

Habitat Sponsors

LINKS

Video: NBC29 news coverage of the dedication featuring the home owner of the home built by my parish.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville

Habitat for Humanity International

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Nuns on the Bus — Charlottesville

 

Nuns on the Bus in Charlottesville

Nuns on the Bus arriving in Charlottesville

The Nuns on the Bus stopped by Charlottesville in helping to promote the need for fair and just immigration reform in America.  Charlottesville Mayor Sandrana Huja, himself an immigrant from India, greeted the nuns and spoke of his support for their cause of needed immigration reform.  The nuns were greeted with a diverse and enthusiastic group of people from Central Virginia.

Mayor Satyendra Huja welcoming Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, and the Nuns on the Bus to the City of Charlottesville

Mayor Satyendra Huja welcoming Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, and the Nuns on the Bus to the City of Charlottesville

Crowd supporting and welcoming the Nuns on the Bus to Charlottesville

Crowd supporting and welcoming the Nuns on the Bus to Charlottesville

Sister Simone Campbell was joined by other nuns from around the country and various religious orders to join  Network: A National Catholic Justice Lobby, to lobby for fair and needed immigration reform.  She was excited to report that she had just met with President Obama who supports immigration reform and he said that it is a bi-partisan issue and this is the year to get a bill passed.  The reforms that Network lobby are supporting are immigration reform that include the following items:

  • ensures family unity
  • protects the rights of immigrant workers
  • speeds up process of already-approved immigrants
  • acknowledges our borders are already secure, with only minor changes needed
  • enhances the present diversity visa program
  • provides a clear, direct path to citizenship.
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of Network

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of Network

 

President Obama meeting with Sister Simone Campbell in the Oval Office.

President Obama meeting with Sister Simone Campbell in the Oval Office on May 30, 2013.

A fellow parishioner, Fanny, from Church of the Incarnation, came and gave powerful testimony at a meeting with representatives of Congressman Robert Hurt’s office in Albemarle County.  She said that she is heartbroken due to her son being deported this past February.  Fanny said her son is a law-abiding and hard-working person who contributed to the New Jersey community for over 20 years, but was deported to Ecuador and not given option for appeal.  She lobbied for fair immigration reform that does not separate families and offers a path to citizenship.

Fanny & Nuns on the Bus speaking to representative of Congressman Robert Hurt's office

Fanny & Nuns on the Bus speaking to representative of Congressman Robert Hurt’s office

Toan Nguyen (Cville Coffee owner) speaks in support for immigration reform and talks about his experience immigrating from Vietnam

Toan Nguyen (Cville Coffee owner) speaks in support for immigration reform and talks about his experience immigrating from Vietnam

Nuns on the Bus – The Movie

Melissa Regan is an award-winning documentary film maker, and she is following and recording the nuns on their journey.  She is currently working on fundraising through her website and about to release a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help complete the support needed to make this movie.  You can follow the Nuns on the Bus on their website and though their social networks–check links below.

Filming for Nuns on the Bus

Filming for Nuns on the Bus — The Movie

 

NETWORK's Nuns on the Bus are back on the road driving for faith, family, and citizenship — traveling across the United States — 6,500 miles over 15 states — 53 events in 40 cities — standing with immigrants, faith-filled activists, and Catholic Sisters who serve immigrant communities.

NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus are back on the road driving for faith, family, and citizenship — traveling across the United States — 6,500 miles over 15 states — 53 events in 40 cities — standing with immigrants, faith-filled activists, and Catholic Sisters who serve immigrant communities.

Video from Catholic New Service:

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, marks 25 years of service to supporting immigrants, and are anticipating a lot of work ahead with reforms:

 

LINKS

USCCB Immigration website

Nuns on the Bus website

Nuns on the Bus Movie website

More photos from Nuns on the Bus visit to Charlottesville May 30-31, 2013

Washington Post article of Nuns on the Bus (May 31, 2013)

Nuns on the Bus 2 — National Catholic Register (June 6, 2013)

Last Blog about 2012 Nuns on the Bus – The Faithful Budget 

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The Sycamore Tree: a new Christian Book & Gift Shop

Maria & Richard Nootbaar

Maria & Richard Nootbaar

The Sycamore Tree is a new Christian book and gift shop located in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The Sycamore Tree is a wonderful family-run business founded by Richard and Maria Nootbaar, who are friends from my parish at Church of the Incarnation.  They have started a store that stocks ecumenical Christian books and gifts, and Crane & Co. Stationery.

The Sycamore Tree merchandise

Richard and Maria saw the need to open a store in Central Virginia that offered a wide variety of Christian books and gifts.  The store offers both new and used books, and they can order any book on the market through their network suppliers.  Richard & Maria come from teaching backgrounds, and Maria is also a homeschooling mother, and they both saw the need for homeschooling supplies and resources.  If you are involved or thinking about homeschooling, they are a super resource for books, supplies, and know the supportive network of families and collaborative activities available in the area.

Fr. Gregory Kandt offering blessing to The Sycamore Tree

Fr. Gregory Kandt offering blessing to The Sycamore Tree

The Sycamore Tree is the exclusive distributor in the area for Crane & Co. stationery.  Crane offers the finest stationery, wedding and business invitations on the market, and they are known for providing the paper for our American currency.

Crane & Co. Stationary

 

LINKS

The Sycamore Tree Website

The Sycamore Tree on Facebook

Richard & Maria Nootbaar

Richard & Maria Nootbaar

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Dominican’s 50th Anniversary & New Priory in Charlottesville, Virginia

50th Anniversary Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas with Bishop Francis DiLorenzo

50th Anniversary Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas with Bishop Francis DiLorenzo

The Dominicans celebrated their 50th Anniversary with Bishop DiLorenzo coming for a special Mass and Blessing for a new Priory on March 24th.  The Dominicans came to Charlottesville on the Feast of St. Lawrence August 10, 1963 and established St. Thomas Aquinas Church, which serves Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and The University of Virginia. This priory is the first built in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and offers a religious community for eight priests.  The priory was built to last using the skills of local artisans including cabinet makers, stain glass artists, masons, and carpenters.

New St. Thomas Aquinas Priory

New St. Thomas Aquinas Priory

IMG_8872 Daniel White is a young stained glass artist and parishioner with Cain Architectural Glass who co-designed the stained glass windows with pastor, Fr. Luke Clark ,O.P. that adorn the Priory Chapel.  The beautiful stained glass was made locally, and incorporated many symbols of the Dominicans.

The East Window highlights the Holy Spirit and is surrounded with the symbols of The Hand of God, St. Joseph, The Dominican Shield, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Lawrence, St. Dominic, The Blessed Virgin Mary, and Jesus, the Lamb of God.

The East Window highlights the Holy Spirit and is surrounded with the symbols of The Hand of God, St. Joseph, The Dominican Shield, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Lawrence, St. Dominic, The Blessed Virgin Mary, and Jesus, the Lamb of God.

The West Window highlights the Sacred Heart of Jesus, surrounded by The Eucharist, Flagrum, Spear, Baptism, Reconciliation, Crown of Thorns, Three Nails, and Grapes & Vine.

The West Window highlights the Sacred Heart of Jesus, surrounded by The Eucharist, Flagrum, Spear, Baptism, Reconciliation, Crown of Thorns, Three Nails, and Grapes & Vine.

The priory also offers the St. Vincent Ferrer Columbarium, a first for Catholics in Central Virginia.  The word “columbarium” comes from the Latin and translates as a compartmentalized house for doves; the gentle birds mentioned in Holy Scripture and recognized as a symbol of peace.  There are over 50 memorial spaces which are available to Catholics for $4,500

St. Vincent Ferrer Columbarium

St. Vincent Ferrer Columbarium

The Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, is an order with a strong charism of preaching, and education.  The Dominican website explains the essence of the order: Dominicans preach the Word of God in every possible way including liturgical preaching, parish missions, retreat preaching, occasional lectures, addresses at religious conferences, street preaching, teaching, writing (especially books), through art (especially film, television, theatre, and radio), and by exploiting the advantages offered by the Internet and other advances of the digital age, without ever sacrificing the indispensable role of personal presence by which communication becomes true communion. Dominican Blessed Humbert of Romans sums up all of this in his famous 13th century Treatise on Preaching: “How necessary is the office of preaching without which the human heart would not rise to the hope of heaven.” Fr. Jospeph Scordo, O.P., has served as a Dominican in the Military Chaplaincy: The Dominicans also offer a great free App called iDoms Portal.  The App offers incredible resources including Dominican articles, videos, and audio from many of their great preachers and theologians.

iDoms Portal App

iDoms Portal App

The Dominicans are still in the process of fundraising, and if you can help I encourage you to look at their websites at the links below. LINKS St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish St. Tomas Aquinas Priory Dominicans of the Province of Saint Joseph iDoms Portal App Article about St. Joseph, protector of preachers statue in Dominicana Saint Dominic and his dog Saint Joesph and his dog statue in priory courtyard.

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Fortnight for Freedom–Charlottesville

Fortnight for Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

 

The area parishes of Charlottesville gathered this past Sunday evening at the First Amendment Monument Free Speech Wall for a prayer service for the Fortnight of Freedom.  We honored to have Fr. Stephen Alcott, O.P., to lead us in the Prayer of Protection of Religious Liberty and the Litany for Liberty.

Prayer Service at 1st Amendment Monument

Prayer Service at 1st Amendment Monument

Maddie Pericak is a talented artist who created a mural on the Free Speech wall to represent religious liberty.  The mural included images of St. Thomas More, the patron saint of religious liberty, the crosses at calvary, and mother earth.

Maddie Pericak

Maddie Pericak

 

Religious Liberty Mural on 1st Amendment Monument

Religious Liberty Mural on 1st Amendment Monument

Following is a stop-motion You Tube video of the making of the mural:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp3CaB39LvE

Nancy Brinkac also read the statement from Bishop Francis Dilorenzo that was in the Richmond Times Dispatch regarding issues about religious liberty.  It was very appropriate to read this in the very place where Thomas Jefferson and James Madison introduced the ideas of religious liberty to Virginia and later America. Following is the statement from Bishop Dilorenzo read at the prayer service:

“Imagine that you lived in a country where the government prohibited your church and its ministries from practicing the tenets of your faith. As a Catholic bishop — serving in the commonwealth where almost 250 years ago Virginians Thomas Jefferson and James Madison recognized religion as a natural right not to be infringed upon by the government — I find this threat to be almost unimaginable.

As a native Pennsylvanian, born in the city where patriots forged a nation enshrining religious liberty as the first among the citizens’ rights, to me the denial of that freedom is a foreign concept. So I am perplexed, and indeed dismayed, when I recognize the reality we face today: The religious liberty that rightfully belongs to the Catholic Church I love and serve — and to all people of all faiths — is being threatened by the same government that was founded to guarantee it.

The issue is a recent mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that requires almost all private health plans nationwide to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations. The mandate includes only a narrow and arbitrary exemption for “religious employers.” To qualify, employers must (1) have the narrow tax-exempt status granted to “houses of worship;” (2) teach religion as their purpose; (3) hire primarily people who share their religious tenets; and (4) serve primarily people who share those religious tenets.

The HHS mandate has become a divisive and often mischaracterized issue. From my perspective, it is unprecedented and nothing short of intrusive, coercive and selective.

The mandate is intrusive because it presumes to tell us what is and is not a religious ministry. It says that houses of worship are “in,” but charities, hospitals, and universities are “out.” But it is not the role of government to create two camps — those who are deemed “religious enough” to get a “pass” and others who must instead cast their religion aside because of the ways they serve the broader community. In fact, I even wonder which of the two designations our government would assign to Jesus and his disciples.

The mandate is coercive because it seeks to force many institutions to use their own money to provide drugs and procedures that are contrary to their foundational teachings on life, love and family. I fully recognize that the Catholic Church’s beliefs on contraception are not shared by all. But the issue is not whether our beliefs are popular. Rather, the issue is whether we are allowed to spend our own money in ways that are consistent with what we profess, or whether we are instead forced to give up our religion when we offer health plans.

The mandate is selective because it falls way short of religious liberty for all — all employers, insurers and individuals whose deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs make them unwilling to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations. The government has allowed members of some faiths, such as the Amish and members of Medi-Share, a program of Christian Care Ministry, to opt out of the Affordable Care Act entirely. That their religious beliefs are respected gives me hope that religious freedom is still alive; that the beliefs of many others are being trampled makes me wonder how much longer this first freedom will survive…

…The fact remains: When it comes to a religious exemption, some are “in” and others are “out.” Of those who are “out,” some will await what additional scraps of religious liberty may be salvaged if the yet-to-be-created “accommodation” provides more than what has been announced.

An essential question also remains: Will the religious liberty that is our right and our heritage be reduced to narrow exemptions and meaningless “accommodations”? Not if we unite around the foundational principles that Jefferson, Madison and many others knew would serve our country well.” (Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, Richmond Times Dispatch, April 9, 2012)

We ended our prayer service with the crowd singing America the Beautiful, and then everyone was invited to write messages or artworks on the wall for religious liberty.  I hope that these prayers and messages help to keep our religious liberty for all faiths in this country we all love.

The US Bishops came out with an important statement after the recent (5-4) decision by the US Supreme Court to move forward with the Affordable Healthcare Act.  The US Bishops still want to see changes made to improve the act, and will be moving forward with lawsuit against the HHS Mandate.  Following is the link to the press release from US Bishops:  Bishops Renew Plea to Congress and Administration to Repair the Affordable Healthcare Act.

LINKS

Fortnight for Freedom (USCCB)

First Amendment Monument–Charlottesville, Virginia

 Previous Blog–Fortnight Baltimore

Previous Blog–Fortnight Richmond

 

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Stand Up for Religious Freedom & Rutherford Institute

Yesterday there was a peaceful rally of 110 citizens concerned about preserving religious freedom. The rally was held in Jackson Park in the City of Charlottesville.  Nearly 50,000 people from many faiths joined together in 160+ cities across America to unite in protesting the HHS Mandate in the Obama healthcare plan.  Many people are concerned that the federal government is mandating funding of drugs and procedures that go against the beliefs of faith organizations and thus violates the first amendment to freedom of religion.

Fr. Joseph Scordo from St. Thomas Aquinas parish spoke very eloquently about how this not just an issue for Catholics, but an issue for all Americans.  The issue of religious liberty is the foundation of all the other rights and liberties.  Father Scordo recounted that he has said many funerals at Monticello, and he thought that President Jefferson would be rolling in his grave if he knew the threats to religious liberty happening in America.

Fr. Joseph Scordo, O.P. (Domincan priest)

Fr. Joseph Scordo, O.P. (Domincan priest)

 

Patriotic songs of America the Beautiful, God Bless America, National Anthem sung

Patriotic songs of America the Beautiful, God Bless America, National Anthem sung

 

Rob Bell is a state delegate who came to speak and support the efforts of the rally to preserve religious freedom.  Mr. Bell read the first amendment to the crowd to remind them of the important protections it affords of freedom speech, religion, press, and right to assemble peacefully.  A representative from congressman Robert Hurt also read a letter in support of the rally and its principles.

State Delegate Rob Bell

State Delegate Rob Bell

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (1st Amendment to the US Constitution, Bill of Rights-1791)

Marta Brannon

Marta Brannon

Marta Brannon was the Rally Captain for the event and gave a great speech for women’s support of religious freedom and emphasizing that this is not about restricting contraception, but about religious freedom and the HHS Mandate does not follow the 1st Amendment protection.  There were a few women who came with signs, and the organizers and crowd acknowledged their right to protest peacefully.

Protestors of the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally

Protestors of the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally

I am amazed that this rally is taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson & James Madison introduced the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786), that allowed Catholics and other faiths their religious freedom.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

James Madison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) that formed the basis of the US Bill of Rights .  It is interesting to compare Article 16 to the Bill of Rights 1st Amendment:

Section 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.

George Mason

George Mason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the day of the rally, The Rutherford Institute, issued a letter to the Mayor of Charlottesville alleging discriminatory practices for fees in parks for free speech events.  The organizers of this event had to register and pay a fee to have the event at Jackson Park with the City of Charlottesville.  Both local TV stations had reporters at the rally, and they both reported different stories, with CBS covering the free speech issue of the Rutherford Institute letter, and NBC covering the issue of religious freedom and the rally.  I hope this blog gives a more balanced report of the rally showing all sides of the issues.

Rally organizer, Harry Koenig in media interview with CBS-19 reporter

Rally organizer, Harry Koenig in media interview with CBS-19 reporter

 

Please help support and pray for the Fortnight of Freedom coming up June 21st.  There are details and links to more information below:

LINKS

Stand Up for Religious Freedom website

Letter from Rutherford Institute to Mayor Huja

Fortnight of Freedom (June 21st-July 4th)

Previous Blog about Catholics Standing Up for Rights

The Rutherford Institute

CBS-19 TV Coverage of Event

NBC-29 TV Coverage of Event

Virginia Declaration of Rights

The Charters of Freedom (The Declaration, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights)

 

Jackson Park, Charlottesville, Virginia

Jackson Park, Charlottesville, Virginia

 

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Catholics Are Standing Up for Rights

With the controversial HHS Mandate proposed by the Obama Administration, Catholics are uniting across America in protest.  There are two major initiatives being organized to advocate for religious liberty and against the threat the HHS mandate makes to religious freedom protected by The Constitution.

Stand Up for Religious Freedom

The first group is organizing its second rally to Stand Up for Religious Freedom.  They will be having meetings in over 100 cities across America having rallies at Noon on June 8th.  The rally in Charlottesville, Virginia will be in Jackson Park next to the courthouse at Noon.  Please try to attend a rally near you, and if you are unable to attend, please pray for us.  Details are available at their website in LINKS below.

Fortnight for Freedom

The United States Catholic Bishops have joined with other Catholic and Christian organizations to file a law suit against the HHS Mandate.  There will be period of fourteen days that the church will focus on prayer, and action for religious liberty.  The Fortnight for Freedom will begin with a Mass in Baltimore for the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More on June 21st at 7pm, and it will end on July 4th (Independence Day) at 12:10pm with a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington and homilist Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  The Mass will be televised nationwide on the EWTN cable network.  I hope you can make time to support these events in person, or to support us in prayer.

Father Barron recently posted a video that has good references in history and explains well the need to advocate for religious liberty:

LINKS

Stand Up for Religious Freedom (Nationwide Rally)

 USCCB Site for Fortnight for Freedom

USCCB Site for resources for Religious Liberty/Conscience Protections

Preserve Religious Freedom (Archdiocese of Washington)

Virginia Catholic Conference comments on HHS Mandate

Previous blog post about Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally on March 23rd

The United States Charters of Freedom (US Archives)

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (1st Amendment to the US Constitution, Bill of Rights-1791)

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Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom

Stand Up For Religious Freedom

On Friday, people from 140 cities across America assembled to protest the HHS Mandate and to stand up for religious freedom.  Here in Charlottesville, over 100 people assembled in front of the U.S. Courthouse in prayer, song, and peaceful protest against the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate.

Father Luke Clark leading group in prayer

Father Luke Clark leading group in prayer

Fr. Luke Clark, O.P., Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church  led the group prayer, and read a statement from Bishop Francis DiLorenzo.  The group sang “America the Beautiful” and cheered the passing cars to honk their horns–which many people supported with toots of the horns and waving hands.  This nationwide assembly was organized in little time largely through social media channels.  I think that if there was more time to organize this rally, there would have been close to 1,000 in attendance.  There may be another organized in the near future, as there is currently a 60-day period of public comment to the Federal Government at this time.  You are encouraged to write and call your local congressmen and the Obama administration about this important issue.

22 Catholic Bishops attended these rallies across America to speak, and others like Bishop DiLorenzo submitted letters to be read.  Bishop DiLorenzo wrote:

“The Diocese of Richmond deeply appreciates the efforts of so many women and men who have joined together across denominational and religious lines to advance the cause of religious liberty in our society.”

“The Diocese stands united with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, resolved to work with all people of good will to preserve, protect, and promote the fundamental human right to the free exercise of religion.”

“Be assured of our prayers and our support as we continue to defend the rights of citizens to freely exercise their consciences, and the rights of religious institutions to exercise their ministries with fidelity to their tradition.”

Fr. Luke Clark reading the official letter from Bishop Francis DiLorenzo

Fr. Luke Clark reading the official letter from Bishop Francis DiLorenzo

 

Rally in front of US Courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia

Rally in front of US Courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia

We were fortunate to get some local media coverage through TV, radio, and on the front page of our local paper The Daily Progress.  Below are links to the press coverage and good reference websites about this issue.

Following is a You Tube Video promoting Religious Freedom

LINKS

Stand Up for Religious Freedom Website

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops–Website for Conscience Protection

Article from Daily Progress

CBS-19 video and story of Rally

Catholic Online coverage of Rally in Norfolk, Virginia

Washington Post coverage of Rally across America

 

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