March 30, 2012


Now is the time to be ‘all in,’ stand firm for religious liberty

They came by the hundreds in a steady rain to the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis on March 23.

People of various faith traditions wanting their voices to be heard as they stood up for religious freedom.

Need more proof that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces employers, including religious ones, to provide contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in their health plans doesn’t sit well across America?

The scene was repeated in Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Diego and more than 130 other cities throughout the United States that day.

Young people, middle-aged folks, seniors—thousands of citizens of all ages and walks of life—were united in prayer and convictions.

Speakers throughout the country urged people of faith to stay strong in their defense of our first freedom, religious liberty, which the U.S. bishops recently noted “is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great tradition.”

Father John Hollowell, chaplain of Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis and associate pastor of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg, had it right while speaking to about 700 people at the Indianapolis rally when he said that Americans are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

“It’s important to note that the Founding Fathers saw these rights and freedoms as things given to each person by their Creator,” Father Hollowell said. “There’s a very dangerous notion that has begun to creep into our vocabulary in this country. And that is—some [people] are beginning to suggest that the rights that we have are given to us by the federal government or the state government or some other government.”

What the government seems to be providing us these days is more “mandates” of how we should live our lives according to its newly created standards—not our Gospel values which date back thousands of years.

What many leaders in Washington, D.C., don’t seem to be able to grasp is that many of us are committed to living out the tenets of our faith.

Yes, we wear it on our sleeves.

And yes, we stand together when our freedoms, like religious liberty, are threatened.

In a recent homily at an area parish, a priest discussed the challenges or crosses that many of us face as we try to live lives of faith.

Nothing changes, he said, unless we tackle those challenges as people committed to following Jesus’ example on the Cross.

The priest said that faith is not a spectator sport, and we “need to be in the game.”

As we approach Holy Week and Easter, now is the time to make sure that we are “all in” concerning protecting religious liberty and its freedoms.

Visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at for resources that have been posted there.

Let your congressional representatives in Washington know how you feel about this issue.

And, finally, pray.

“Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength—for without God, we can do nothing. But with God, all things are possible,” the bishops said in their recent statement titled “United for Religious Freedom.”

Pray that our efforts to stand up for religious liberty bear much fruit.

—Mike Krokos

God is at work in Henryville

Life in rural America is simple for most people.

But as we learned again recently, all of that can change in an instant.

The tornadoes that ravaged Henryville and its surrounding area earlier this month offered a lesson on how quickly things out of our control can affect a community.

The March 2 tornadoes that decimated a good portion of the area left homes and hearts tattered and torn, but out of the tragedy we see how God works.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, said as much as he concelebrated Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church in Henryville on March 25. He praised parishioners for actively demonstrating their faith during the aftermath of the tornadoes.

“In this community in the past few weeks,” he said, “we’ve seen people step up and show others what it’s like to be a good Christian and a good Catholic. Jesus tells us over and over that we have to die to ourselves and live for others. It’s not about me. It’s about the needs of others.”

Those needs continue. Information on how to volunteer is available at or 317-236-1500 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1500. Checks made payable to Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, with “tornado relief” on the memo line may be mailed to:

Catholic Charities,
Attention: Tornado Relief,
1400 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202

May God bless you for your generosity.

—Mike Krokos

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