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Holy Cross Parish Holds Prayer Service For Religious Freedom

Father Wanyonyi makes the Sign of the Cross with the Blessed Sacrament during the Benediction that concluded the Holy Hour and prayer service. Father Ernst censes the Blessed Sacrament. The Message photos by Tim Lilley

Holy Cross Parish in Fort Branch held a Holy Hour and prayer service for religious freedom on June 28 as part of the 2017 Fortnight for Freedom. The parish’s Journey Men group organized the service.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has promoted the Fortnight for several years. It opens annually on June 21 and concludes on July 4.

Holy Cross Associate Pastor Ambrose Wanyonyi led the service, and Pastor Father Tony Ernst served as homilist. Deacon Joseph Siewers assisted.

After Father Wanyonyi exposed the Blessed Sacrament, Father Ernst read Matthew’s Gospel account of Jesus teaching the Beatitudes, and he talked about the importance of prayer for freedom.

“In a lot of ways, we take for granted the freedoms that we have,” he said. “One is the freedom of religion and what that really means.”

Father Ernst emphasized the difference between freedom of worship and true religious freedom. “We want to be able to express our religion freely – to live it and share it, but without imposing it on others,” he said. “We want the freedom to do that outside these walls.”

He talked about the importants of having the ability to publicly acknowledge the dignity of every human life and to acknowledge the vocation of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman. “Being here and praying about these things is very important,” he said. “In my mind, it isn’t asking too much to be able to (freely) teach the Catholic faith.

“I wish more people knew how important this is,” Father Ernst said, referring to the relatively small turnout for the service. “Maybe someday they will. Our Catholic faith is more than just worshipping inside the church. It’s about evangelizing. We pray this evening that God will help us all defend what we’ve been given, and that we live our faith authentically.”

The service also included praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and the Litany for Liberty prepared by the USCCB. Father Wanyonyi concluded the service with Benediction.