June: Religious Freedom Week

David “Reggie” R Vasquez, Visions Chairman

For the past several years the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have sponsored and promoted “A Fortnight for Freedom”.

The Knights of Columbus, in our State, and throughout the United States have wholly endorsed and supported this effort. This year the Bishops have changed the fortnight to a single week called “Religious Freedom Week” with the theme of Serving Others in God’s Love. This week from June 22 – 29, 2018 is to provide a focused period of time to concentrate our attention on the issue of religious freedom. This particular week centers around the feast days of saints (Sts. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, the nativity of St. John the Baptist, and Sts. Peter and Paul) who bore particular witness to religious liberty.

The main focus of Religious Freedom Week is to promote the importance of preserving the essential right of religious freedom. The USCCB is seeking through all of us the space to carry out her mission of service and mercy to continue to serve in areas like education, adoption and foster care, health care, and migration and refugee services. The Bishops are providing “Pray – Reflect – Act” one-pagers – one for each day on different religious liberty topics. The materials are meant to inspire people to learn more about religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, to pray about particular issues, and give them the tools to act on what they learn, whether it’s by finding ways for their parish to serve their community or perhaps even by calling their Member of Congress to promote legislation supporting religious liberty. The link is:

For the Knights of Columbus, the Religious Freedom Week provides a wonderful opportunity for many Council and Assembly activities. Already the Knights have been out in the forefront defending Religious Liberty efforts by establishing the Christian Refugee Relief Fund and promoting Prayer for persecuted Christians. Is your Council or Assembly a participant in these efforts? We can spearhead the efforts in our own parishes and communities by gathering resources, distributing prayer cards, and working with our pastors to promote Religious Freedom Week activities. It also provides us with the opportunity to let other know who we are, what we do, and what we stand for. And it is an opportunity to ask others to join in our efforts and to join our Order.

Awareness of the truth regarding religious freedom is a daunting task in a polarized political environment. Our Bishops look to the Knights to lead the effort to help provide space to carry out their mission. We may not always agree with the direction that some claims for religious freedom seem to be heading, but with the direction, guidance, and focus of our Bishops we can provide the backing and support to get to the truth. Lack of religious liberty leads quickly to persecution and the stifling of truth. The Knights of Columbus will always stand for the truth, in and with Charity, Unity, and Fraternity.

As we reflect on and celebrate on a week dedicated to Religious Freedom, it is good also to be proud of what we have accomplished. We can be proud to be part of an organization that provides relief to persecuted Christians, helps to rebuild their homes, prays for religious freedom for all, seeks legislations providing justice and religious freedom, and supports our Bishops and priests. Sounds like some pretty good talking points when inviting other Catholic men to join our Order. Together in unity we can bring about great changes in society, be a part of that change!

Vivat Jesus! Viva Cristo Rey!

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