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Festival For Freedom

First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

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The Festival was the Beginning, not the end….

The Festival For Freedom was just the beginning.  We obeyed the Bishops’ request for prayer and education; now it is time to put our learning and energy and commitment into practice. 

The need to “Stop the HHS Mandate” is more urgent than ever, especially given the Supreme Court decision which occurred during our Festival time together.  And now, August 1 rolls around — the implementation date for the so-called “Obamacare.”

Having had a pause to digest our experience, we must shift back into action mode and
give this full throttle.  Invite others to join us.  If you are not yet on the list to get regular updates on when and where we are meeting, please send your contact information to and we’ll put you on the list.

We do see the need for more intensive formalizing of action plans over the coming days and to reckon with our own consciences that we shall have done all that we can do.  Briefly we considered meeting on August 4th, but have postponed that work to a time (in the very near future) when more people will be able to attend.  What do you plan to do in the 100 days leading up to election day?  We have plenty of ideas; please contact us.

Thank you to the Priests and Deacons who enriched our experience!

Thank you especially to the Priests and Deacons who enriched the experience of the Festival for Freedom at Notre Dame Retreat House.  Each morning (except Sunday when we worshiped in our own communities) one of the following priests offered Mass for us.  We are grateful for their presence and for their inspiring words to help us to better treasure the gift of Freedom, which is from our God, not from any government:

Mass Presiders
for the Festival for Freedom: 
June 21 Thursday Fr. Al Cylwicki
June 22 Friday  Fr. Michael Mayer
June 23 Saturday Fr. Peter Stravinskas
June 25 Monday Fr. Thomas Mull 
June 26 Tuesday Fr. Tomasso
June 27 Wednesday Fr. Mike Sergi
June 28 Thursday Fr. Paul Miller 
June 29 Friday  Fr. Robert Bradler
June 30 Saturday Fr. Roy Kiggins
July 2  Monday Fr. Tony Mugavero
July 3  Tuesday Fr. Brian Frain
July 4  Wednesday Fr. Mickey McGrath

Fr. Al Cylwicki enjoys breakfast discussion with Festival Attendees



Fr. Mike Mayer in after-Mass breakfast discussion.

We also thank the Deacons who offered Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, and/or acted as speakers and organizers.  We include Deacons Tim Sullivan, Robert Burke, Ed Knauf, Greg Kiley, Kevin Carges and of course Deacon Claude Lester who provided such insight, leadership and vision to an extraordinary opportunity.  Deacon Tim Sullivan’s presentation on “Authentic Freedom and Marriage” can be viewed under the MEDIA tab:  Videos.
Thank you especially to the Notre Dame Retreat House and the Redemptorists in residence there and their staff for their welcoming hospitality and their patience. 
What follows are two of the delightful homilies we heard.  If other homilists send us their words, we’ll be happy to post those as well.  The first is from Fr. Peter Stravinskas (with a video link to his preaching a similar homily elsewhere), and the second is from Fr. Mickey McGrath.  Click “More” just below to read both, and any comments received. 

Read more ...

Remember on this 4th of July …


Flag at Notre Dame Retreat House



Today will be the end of the Festival for Freedom, the Fortnight called for by the US Catholic Bishops.

At the Festival site we’ve just finished viewing the musical “1776,” so it is timely to offer a  bit of American History, hardly covered in today’s public schools. 

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence ?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. 
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;

Another had two sons captured. 
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or  

Hardships of the Revolutionary War. 
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
Eleven were merchants,
Nine were farmers and large plantation owners;
Men of means, well educated,
But they signed the Declaration of Independence
Knowing full well that the penalty would be death if
They were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and
Trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the
British Navy. He sold his home and properties to
Pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British
That he was forced to move his family almost constantly.
He served in the Congress without pay, and his family
Was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him,
And poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,
Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown , Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that
The British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson
Home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General
George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed,
And Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.
The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying.
Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill
Were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests
And caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his
Children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and
Silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: freedom is never free!

From the Barricades: NEWS from the Festival Site

As many of our readers can imagine, there was a sigh of disappointment this morning when the Supreme Court announced its decision, just as our first speaker (Loretta Fleming regarding a Human Life Amendment)  was about to begin.  We stopped for a few minutes to be sure we understood the announcement, and then we prayed the Reflection of Archbishop Oscar Romero, which we share with you for your prayer as well.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, Assassinated in San Salvador


Martyred on March 24, 1980 in San Salvador, while saying Mass, Archbishop Romero had spoken out for all those suffering oppression, at a great risk to himself.  He had completed a radio address the day before, exhorting the people to follow their consciences rather than “orders.”  He knew the risk but said “I am bound as a pastor by divine command, to give my life for those whom I love…”  He died as he lived.  But he left us a meditation which is very helpful whenever we think something depends only on us, or that we have the only vision, or that our contribution really doesn’t matter.  It is an inspiring way to look at the work God gives us to do. 


Meditation of Archbishop Oscar Romero  

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction

Of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying

That the kingdom of God always lies beyond us.


No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted,

Knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our abilities.


We cannot do everything,

And realizing that gives us a sense of liberation.

This enables us to do something and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way,

An opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,

But that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders,

Ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.



NEWS FLASH: Look here for changes and updates in the printed program!


Friday, June 29th:  The TBA program at 10:00 AM will be group discussion on the learnings of this week, our reactions, ideas and sharing.  Come and be heard!  We will surround our time with prayer.  So, join us for Mass at 9 AM if you can.  Then stop in the dining room to get some coffee and calories.  And then head to the conference room.  From 11:45 AM until noon lunch we will spend time in silence.  We hope you can join us Friday morning.

Diocesan Courier published on-line an article about Festival for Freedom:



Monday, June 25th 3:15 “TBA” program will be a showing of BELLA!


Notre Dame, beginning on Monday, June 25th, will no longer require

pre-registration for lunch or dinner 3 days in advance.

Attendees may register and pay for meals they want on the particular day they attend.


Information for IPAD users and those with similar devices who have limited accessibility

to all the options on this site, please note that you can find the printed schedule at

 Registration is especially recommended for the local premiere of For Greater Glory and for both Michael Voris presentations, which are expected to have strong attendance.  If you are not registered in advance, you are still welcome to come, but those with reservations will be seated first.

Michael Voris,  of “Real Catholic TV” renown, has been added to the Festival for Freedom Schedule.  He will speak on “Fighting Tyranny” at 7:00PM on Wednesday, June 27th and on “The Church Militant” at 7:00PM on Thursday, June 28th.  We expect a big turnout for both these talks; come early and car pool for good parking.  There will be a free-will offering after each of his talks.

CATS Schedule:  after the first batch of programs was printed, we were able to secure transportation from the Canandaigua Area Transportation System (CATS).  On weekdays during the Festival for Freedom, i.e. Monday through Friday, a shuttle bus will leave St. Mary’s parking lot at 9:00AM and again at 1:00PM going to the Notre Dame Retreat Center.  Returns from the Retreat Center to St. Mary’s will be at 1:30PM and again at 5:00PM.  The cost will be $2.00 per person each way.

Cancellations:  Theater of the Word’s third (and ONLY its third performance) which had been planned for Thursday evening, June 28th, i.e. “The Call,” has been cancelled. The other two presentations, “Journey of St. Paul” on Thursday, June 21st, and “Adam and Eve Go to Marriage Counseling” on Tuesday, June 26th, remain unchanged.

Deacon Claude Lester has cancelled his presentation on Wednesday evening, June 27th in order to create a time slot for Michael Voris’s first presentation.

Contact Us

Festival For Freedom.
PO Box 196
Canandaigua, NY, 14424


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