COLUMBIA—Hundreds bowed their heads to pray with Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on the steps of the Statehouse on June 22 to kick off the Diocese of Charleston’s observance of the second annual Fortnight for Freedom.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared June 21 to July 4 as a time to call attention to the importance of religious liberties. Last year marked the first event which draws attention to threats to religious freedom, including the HHS mandate, legislative attempts to change the definition of marriage nationwide, immigration laws that threaten to separate families, and other issues, the USCCB stated.
Bishop Guglielmone celebrated Mass at St. Peter Church and delivered an impassioned homily, saying the need to be vigilant about freedom has not changed.
“We’re begging the Lord’s presence to preserve the freedoms we have had since this country was founded,” he said. “This effort is not about partisan politics. We’re not seeking special treatment or trying to force anyone else to act as we Catholics do. We just want to continue to have the freedoms we have enjoyed.”
The crowd participated in a eucharistic procession from the church on Assembly Street to the Statehouse. Organizers estimated the crowd at 600-700.
Kathy Schmugge, director of the Family Life Office, said they worked with the offices of vocations, ethnic ministries and Hispanic ministries to organize the kickoff. Parishes have also planned events ranging from Masses to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Many are taking part in prayers that include special intentions for religious freedom.
Wherever they came from, everyone in Columbia echoed one theme— a commitment to liberty.
Theresa Van Pilsien, a member of St. Joseph in Columbia, attended with her husband William and their five children, including four daughters who walked in the procession and scattered rose petals ahead of the bishop. She said the family had originally scheduled a trip for June 22, but changed their plans in order to attend the procession.
“We came here to adore Jesus in the Eucharist, and to draw attention to the fact that our freedom as Catholics is under attack,” she said. “We also need to be witnesses for our children and show we are willing to stand up for freedom.”
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