June 15, 2012 – Bits and Pieces

It has been a while since I have done one of my “bits” blogs, just touching on various things, so that’s what we’ll roll with this week.  Of course, those who follow the blog regularly know that these “bits” blogs really mean that Brian can’t come up with something substantive to talk about, so he’ll just wing it and touch on different things.  But we’ll keep that our little secret.

You of course have been hearing a lot over the last several months about the church’s efforts to publicize what our U.S. Bishops feel are threats to our freedom of religion, including many mentions in this blog.  At the forefront of these threats is the mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services that institutions managed by religious organizations (which would include Catholic charities, schools, universities and hospitals) must provide coverage for contraception and sterilization, which would force these institutions to pay for and facilitate things they consider immoral.  Unfortunately, this has not gotten a lot of coverage on national media outlets, so many people may still be confused as to why the Catholic Church and other religious organizations consider this such a serious issue.  Here is a link to a document which outlines 12 points everyone should know about the “contraceptive mandate” that makes the issue much more clear:

www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Twelve-Things-Everyone-Should-Know-About-the-Contraceptive-Mandate.pdf

In response to these threats, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is sponsoring a “Fortnight for Freedom” which begins this coming Thursday, June 21 and lasts until Independence Day, Wednesday, July 4.  This two-week period will emphasize prayer, study, catechesis and public action for the purpose of preserving our religious liberty.  I will be putting links to resources on our website, but here are a few to get us started.  The homepage for the Fortnight can be found at this link: www.fortnight4freedom.org.  It includes many resources for prayer and education.  Locally, there will be a special Mass at the Cathedral in Belleville on Friday, June 22 at 12.10PM.  Following the Mass, there will be a march to the St. Clair County Courthouse where a rally will take place.  For more information on this event, here is a link to the flyer:

http://home.catholicweb.com/RespectLife/files/Fortnight4FreedomFlyerFinal.pdf

Finally, here is a link to daily reflections for each day of the Fortnight:

www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/fortnight-for-freedom-reflections.cfm

Also, keep an eye on our Facebook page as I will be putting lots of updates on happenings here and throughout the country during this time.

Speaking of Facebook, I don’t have to tell how the popularity of social media has exploded in this country and worldwide.  Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have become a part of many of our lives.  I can remember a few years back writing that I didn’t really see myself getting into this Facebook thing – that it was probably just a passing fad like many other things.  Well, those who know me know that I have not only embraced Facebook, but I have become a Facebook fiend.  I have made many connections to people whom I hadn’t seen in a long time through Facebook.  It is also a tremendous hub for information.  Many Catholic organizations, dioceses, Bishops, churches, etc. have a presence on Facebook.  The Diocese of Springfield, IL has not only encouraged all of their parishes to have at least a Facebook presence on social media, they are also encouraging all parishes to designate a Social Media Coordinator to mange their social media accounts.  They even laid out guidelines for this position including someone who is experienced with using social media, someone who has close ties to the parish, and someone who is trustworthy.  I was on the fence as to whether I would be willing to coordinate the social media activities of our parish until I saw that the person should be trustworthy.  I knew then that I was the person for the job (lol).

In all seriousness, I would encourage you to visit our Facebook page if you haven’t already done so.  I am always scouring the pages I have liked for interesting things to post.  If you have taken advantage of it, please encourage your friends to do so also.  As with anything else, the more the merrier.  A couple of years ago, I also started a Twitter account for our parish.  I hadn’t utilized it recently because it didn’t appear a lot of folks were taking advantage of it.  However, I plan in the near future to re-establish this by putting a direct feed on our homepage.  It is filled with links to interesting information, as well as brief antidotes from people such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Unfortunately, our own Diocese has not gotten into the social media craze.  I have questioned Diocesan officials about this, and I was given several reasons why this is so:  1) In a time where our Diocese has been cutting staff, there is no one available to do internet design and moderate social media, 2) Things such as Facebook tend to be novelties that go strong at first then die off (which I believe at this point is not the case at all), and 3) we have a Bishop who is very particular about what kind of information is released for public consumption.  My personal belief is that at some point the Diocese will have to have some sort of presence on social media.  It is an effective, inexpensive means of getting massive amounts of information to a lot of people.  But until then, we as a parish will continue our own efforts to embrace this means of evangelization.

Finally, I wish all of our fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, godfathers, etc. a Happy Father’s Day.  We thank all of our fathers, living and deceased, for all of the guidance and sacrifices you have made.  Enjoy the day with your families, and remember, no matter what sort of ugly tie or cheap fishing pole you receive, it is a requirement to act like you really like your gifts.

It was nice to receive at least some rain this past week, but we are in need of much more.  Pray that we receive it and that the hot weather doesn’t become too extreme.  Thanks again for reading.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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