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On the Journey - Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Each year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds us the importance of defending our religious freedom. From June 21st to July 4th Catholics are called to take part in the Fortnight for Freedom. Resources on How to Talk About Religious Freedom are available online at www.usccb.org where you can also find ways to get involved.

The U.S. Bishops encourage all citizens to keep in mind that "if religious liberty is not respected, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that the Church and other people of faith make every day, both here at home and overseas".

"Religion cannot be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life". -Pope Francis, Evangelii Gudiium, 183

Below are a few excerpts from the Religious Freedom guide which you can download from: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/how-to-talk-about-religious-freedom.cfm

"Many religious freedom skeptics have plausible concerns. For example, they are concerned that all people should be treated with equal dignity. Indeed, the dignity of all people is the foundation for Catholic teaching on religious liberty. It is important that we not dismiss skeptics, but rather, that we listen to their concerns and take them seriously".

"Religious freedom is a fundamental right. It means that the government cannot coerce people into acting against their consciences".

"People of faith need religious freedom to have the space to serve others. Oftentimes, religious liberty disputes arise when religious organizations are expected to sacrifice aspects of their faith in order to continue to serve the surrounding community. But it is our faith that inspires us to serve. Take the Little Sisters of the Poor, who live out their Christian faith by serving the elderly poor".

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

The Epiphany of the Lord

"Arise, shine; for your light, has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you. And His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising".
—Isaiah 60:1-3

Starting this Sunday, January 8 to 14th, the Catholic Church celebrates National Migration Week in the United States. This is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for the 2017 celebration draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us.

Welcoming the migrant has a central place in the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Stories in both the Old and the New Testament highlight the fact that in "providing hospitality to the stranger we might also be unwittingly entertaining angels" (Heb 13:2; Gen 18:1-15). The Letter to the Hebrews, highlights the story of Abraham who, by faith, "obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country." (Heb 11).

Therefore, we must always remember that our very faith has its roots in the decision made by one man, Abraham--a migrant--who decided to follow God's command to travel to a foreign land.

Catholics are called to stand with new American immigrants as our brothers and sisters. This is who we are. This is what we do. We belong to the same Church no matter where we're from. Our Catholic identity is not based on where we live but on our faith in Jesus Christ. We're one family, and the Catholic Church is always our home. We are also called to teach people about what the Church's rich body of social thought says about our Christian responsibility to "welcome the stranger among us."

The U.S. Catholic bishops welcome our support to protecting immigrants and refugees. Information is available online at the Justice for Immigrants' homepage at justiceforimmigrants.org.

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski