Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
Dioceses and parishes across the country are gearing up for the Fortnight for Freedom, which begins June 21 and ends on July 4th, in recognition of our right to religious freedom. Special Masses, processions, parades, speakers, and other events are taking place during the 14-day period. In the first half of Register Radio we spoke with Deacon Claude Lester, chair of a task force in Canandaigua, NY that is celebrating an ambitious "Festival for Freedom." As part of its Festival, the Notre Dame Retreat House will be hosting daily Mass and adoration, as well as nationally-recognized speakers each day of the Fortnight. One day, for example is devoted to the U.S. Constitution; another day is devoted to being a child in America.
Deacon Lester explained that individuals locally participated previously in a silent march as part of the Stand Up for Religious Freedom event.
"When the U.S. bishops released their religious freedom document, we continued, wondering how we could put something like this together that would be a meaningful look at our country's founding," explained Deacon Lester.
The effort, Deacon Lester, noted, has been embraced by people of all faiths.
"Religious liberty is a universal principle," said Deacon Lester. "We've gained support from other congregants and have forged new friendships."
The Fortnight is kicking off with a special Mass at Baltimore’s historic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, scheduled for June 21 at 7pm. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, will celebrate the Mass. The Fortnight ends with a special Mass on July 4 at 12:10pm in Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception celebrated by Washington, D.C.'s Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput. Both Masses will be televised on EWTN.
While some have suggested that the Fortnight is "partisan," Deacon Lester heartily disagreed.
"If there are politics involved, it's allegiance to our God and the freedom He has given to us," said Deacon Lester. "This country is a place where that freedom is lived out most fully."
To learn more about the many Fortnight for Freedom events taking place near you, visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Fortnight for Freedom site, or EWTN's Fortnight for Freedom resource page.
In the second half of our program, Register Radio producer Elena Rodriguez has a compelling interview with Astrid Bennett Gutierrez about abortion provider Planned Parenthood opening a clinic inside of a Los Angeles high school.
To learn more, listen to today's show at 2 p.m. EASTERN Friday on any EWTN Radio affiliate. The program re-airs at 7 p.m. EASTERN on Saturday and 11 a.m. EASTERN on Sunday, and is also available on the Register Radio web page, and via podcast.