Welcome Father Charlie Richmond! Fr. Charlie arrived this past week as our new associate pastor at St. Charles and St. Peter’s. He was ordained at our cathedral on Saturday, June 27th, along with three other men. A native of Wisconsin Rapids, Fr. Charlie attended seminary in Winona, MN, Rome, Italy, and Mundelein, IL. He will also serve as chaplain to Notre Dame Middle School and McDonell Catholic High School. I know that you will welcome Fr. Charlie and make him feel very much at home here in Chippewa Falls and Tilden. I am truly delighted to have the chance to minister with our new associate!
On this Fourth of July weekend we also give thanks for the blessing of the freedom we enjoy as Americans. True freedom, however, comes not from doing whatever we want (license) but with doing what is good, right, and just. For us as people of faith it means the freedom to live according to God’s Word and the living tradition of the Church’s moral teaching. True freedom leads to growth in the virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, and chastity. The misuse of freedom gives free reign to vice and to the degradation of human life.
Among the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution is the freedom of religion. This is much more than simply the freedom to worship. It includes being able to live according to the tenants of our Faith in our daily lives. For us as Christians there is no separation between religion and our public life. Our Faith is not a merely “private” affair that has no bearing on how we are to live our lives in the world. Sadly, we are witnessing today a gradual erosion of our rights to religious freedom. There is every reason to fear the recent Supreme Court decision redefining marriage will have far reaching negative consequences in this regard. Let us pray that God gives us as Catholics the strength to remain faithful to the truth of marriage as created by God – a truth no court or human power can alter.
Despite the problems that we face as citizens, there is still much for which we can be thankful for on this Independence Day. The strength of any nation lies in the virtue of its people. And I’m convinced that the majority of our brothers and sisters do desire to live virtuous lives. Therein lays my hope that our country will remain faithful to its promise of freedom – including the freedom of religion – for all people.