Dear Parishioners: image1In your name I offer a warm welcome to Our Lady of Mercy to Father Roy Shea, a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Missionhurst). Fr. Shea is here this weekend to preach at all the Masses about the important work the Missionhurst Missionaries. It is our Annual Mission Co-op Weekend at OLM where we commit our prayers and financial support to the missionaries of our Church. Missionhurst was founded in Belgium in 1862 by Father Theophile Verbist for the conversion of China. Their missionary work was originally centered on the area of Inner Mongolia. Later they would go to the Congo and then across the globe.

There are at present over 800 members of the congregation working in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their mission work includes working in parishes and schools in some of the poorest places in the world. Their good works help to establish hospitals, schools, and churches. I ask for your prayers for the Missionhurst Missionaries and their good works on behalf of the Church. Also the second collection this weekend is solely dedicated to the Missionhurst Missions and I ask for your support and thank you for your generous response.

I hope you are able to offer your best wishes to Summer Seminarian Eric Silva at a “Farewell Reception” at Mercy Park after the 10:30am Mass on this Sunday. Eric’s ten weeks here at OLMfarewell1 have come to an end. It was great to have him with us at OLM. In your name I wish him all the best in his theological studies this fall at St. John’s Seminary in Boston. Pray for Eric as he continues to prepare for the priesthood.

This weekend there is an insert in the bulletin regarding the recent decision by the US Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. On June 26th the Court ruled that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to two persons of the same-sex and to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This decision now sets the teaching about marriage of our Church and many others in direct opposition to the law immigration21of the land. Changing the legal term “marriage” is not simply one change in the law, but rather amounts to thousands of changes at once. The term “marriage” can be found in family law, employment law, trusts and estates, healthcare law, tax law, property law, and many others. These laws affect and regulate religious institutions, such as churches, religiously affiliated schools, hospitals, and families.

Without a doubt this is going to lead to conflicts between the state and religious institutions and individuals of conscience and faith. Religious liberty for such institutions and individuals is likely to be threaten very soon. While religious liberty is protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in federal and state laws. Religious liberty includes more than our ability to freely go to Mass on Pres-QuoteSundays or pray the Rosary at home. It also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of society with our many charitable works and institutions, our educational and healthcare institutions. Our freedom to offer such good works and also follow the teaching of our Church is under threat.  As Catholics we must be concerned about such threats.

We must always be joyful witness of the truth of our Church’s teaching on marriage and life. We must not compromise our convictions about moral truths because of political or societal pressure. Instead we must advocate for religious freedom for all religious institutions and conscience protections for all people of faith. We must pray and act for the truths of our faith.

I am away this week at a national meeting of Stateindex Catholic Conference Directors in Michigan. We are meeting with experts about the looming threats to religious freedom. We are to discuss strategies for advocating on behalf of the Church’s teachings on religious liberty, marriage, human life, immigration, assisted-suicide and poverty. It is certainly a timely meeting. Do good. Be well. God Bless.