Thursday, Jun 07, 2012

The "Fortnight for Freedom" called for by the U.S. bishops is only two weeks away. Dioceses and Catholic organizations and institutions nationwide are gearing up for special Masses, novenas, and prayer vigils to mark this special time to reflect, ponder and act upon the threats to our most treasured freedom of religious liberty.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has listed Fortnight plans of dioceses across the nation. A Mass in Baltimore on June 21 will kick off the Fortnight, while a Mass in Washington, D.C. on July 4 will close the two-week period.

What's happening in Illinois?

Events are still being planned, so check back frequently for updated listings.

Archdiocese of Chicago — has developed daily reflections for the Fortnight, encouraging parishioners to reflect, ponder and act on religious freedom. The Office for Peace and Justice has created a colorful graphic explaining the basic tenets of "Faithful Citizenship" put out by USCCB, as the election season heats up. Fr. Louis J. Cameli has written a document on the Church and its role in politics.

June 16 — "Religious Liberty and Freedom of Conscience Conference" from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Lambert parish in Skokie. Speakers include Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Teresa Stanton Collett, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law; John M. Breen, a professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law; and Rev. Thomas Baima, Vice Rector at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. The conference is free, but registration is required.

June 27 — Auxiliary Bishop George Rassas will present "What's All the Fuss About Religious Freedom?" at 7 p.m. at St. Thomas of Villanova Church in Palatine. An RSVP would be appreciated. Call 847-358-6999 or send an email to

July 2 — St. John the Evangelist parish in Streamwood will have a holy hour for religious freedom at 6:30 p.m.

July 3 — Auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane will lead a prayer vigil for freedom at 7 p.m. at St. Celestine Parish in Elmwood Park.

July 4 — Fr. Francis Hoffman — aka Father Rocky — will celebrate a Mass at 9 a.m. at St. Lambert Parish in Skokie. St. Celestine Parish in Elmwood Park will celebrate a Mass for religious freedom and thanksgiving for our nation's independence at 8 a.m.

Diocese of Belleville — will celebrate a Mass at 12:10 p.m. on Fri., June 22 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, 200 W. Harrison St. in Belleville. The Mass will be followed by a prayer walk to the St. Clair County Courthouse for a religious liberty rally with several speakers.

Diocese of Joliet — is encouraging the formation of parish-based, small discussion groups to read and reflect upon "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty" published by the USCCB. The diocese has also developed daily prayers for the Fortnight. Christ the King parish in Lombard has scheduled several special Masses.

Diocese of Peoria — Members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Silvis and St. Anne's Parish in East Moline are gathering at 6 a.m. daily from June 21 to July 4 to pray the rosary at the Hero Street Memorial in Silvis.

Diocese of Rockford — will celebrate a series of Red Masses at noon on Fri., June 22 in Rockford and in each of the deaneries of Aurora, DeKalb, Elgin, Freeport, McHenry and Sterling. Bishop David J. Malloy will celebrate the Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter at 1243 N. Church St. in Rockford. The diocese has created a special website dedicated to the Fortnight and the issue of religious freedom. The diocese is also giving free car magnets — in both English and Spanish — to parishioners to keep the focus on religious freedom as we head into the November election.

June 27 — Msgr. Eric Barr, a vicar general for the diocese of Rockford and chairman of the diocesan religious liberty committee, will speak about religious freedom at 7 p.m. at St. Mary Parish in Pecatonica.

Diocese of Springfield — Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will celebrate a Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom at 5:15 p.m. on Fri., June 22 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 524 E. Lawrence Ave. in Springfield. The date also marks the second anniversary of Paprocki's installation as the bishop of Springfield.

July 2 — Join Bishop Thomas John Paprocki at noon at the Lincoln statue at the intersection of 2nd and Capitol in Springfield for a prayer service in support of religious liberty. In case of rain, the prayer service will be held in the Hall of Flags at the Howlett Building.

Catholic Conference of Illinois — will kick off its Illinois Catholic Advocacy Network (I-CAN) by sending sign-up pew cards to every parish in the state. Parishioners interested in receiving occasional updates from CCI on state and federal issues that affect the Church — such as religious freedom — are encouraged to sign up for I-CAN. They can also sign up here.

CCI and the Illinois Catholic Health Association produced a 30-second radio advertisement that is running on stations in Chicago and throughout the state during the Fortnight.

Marytown, the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Libertyville — The Conventual Franciscans of Marytown are observing a rosary and prayer for religious freedom at 6:30 p.m. every night from June 21-July 3. During the weekdays of that time period, invited speakers — including CCI's Bob Gilligan — will discuss various aspects of religious freedom at 7 p.m. The Conventual Franciscans will wrap up the Fortnight with a special Mass at 9 a.m. on Independence Day.