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."

Welcome to Festival For Freedom

Religous freedom “Festival for Freedom” originally was a 14-day gathering in June / July 2012 to focus on our First Amendment rights being violated by the Federal HHS mandate’s forcing insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization. That “Fortnight” was called by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to oppose these intrinsic evils attacking both conscience and religious freedom. Our successful FESTIVAL FOR FREEDOM, attended by over 500 people, heard many nationwide expert speakers teaching on American and Religious principles. We have continued to meet, track news and encourage each other in ongoing vigilance to protect our God-given rights, and the country’s moral fiber. We have added advocacy to our charter: “Protect the unborn, Defend marriage and Safeguard religious liberty.” We will continue to speak and work against intrinsic evils in our country’s laws. We thank those who regularly visit this website and support our goals.

Follow-up FFF Activities and Exchange

As the prior post stated (see below),  The Festival for Freedom was just the beginning, not the end.  The FFF was in some ways like a retreat, at which we learned, grew and discerned what God is calling us to do, either individually or in a group, focused especially on protecting and preserving our Freedom of Religion.

Recently some of us noticed that we were transitioning from acting as a group oriented to group priorities to better hearing the Holy Spirit’s call to specific and sometimes individual action.   We are learning what it means, through our Baptism, to embrace roles as priest, prophet and king.

We have mused on our transition from acting as a group (which of course we will continue do on occasion, such as regarding the next USCCB-requested Procession, on October 20th, ) and the emerging actions and projects of individuals, energized by our group experience.  One does not preclude the other. 

We spent much time during the Festival for Freedom learning and preparing ourselves.  It is perfectly natural that we would now move toward the individual responsibility of Christian Action as well.  Christ used the imagery of wheat.  In our area of the country we might also learn from the milkweed pod.  When ready, the interior action opens  the pod, and life bursts forward to reseed itself.  In our growing in learning together, we are becoming ready to go forward in fruitfulness.  Ultimately, that is what reflects, or not, the results of the Festival for Freedom.   I hope you find the image as enchanting as we do.


We’d also like to be a place which can collect the various initiatives into one place and support each other.  For example, if your church has set aside a time of adoration together during the week, or a daily Mass together, a scripture study, or  service at which those working on the freedom initiative try to attend, please let us know and we’ll post the specifics right here. 

In addition to worship events, we will also post any freedom activities occuring which we are given permission to publish.  To start things off, here are just a few which the FFF organizing committee is initiating or continuing.    Please send information on your events which we can post, events such as Adoration, Mass, Prayer, Rosary etc.  Email us at info@FestivalforFreedom.com 

Committee Freedom Activities

Completed :  Mailing  information and homily resources to pastors, parish priests.

Distribution of Voters’ Guides highlighting USCCB guidelines (copy here)

School Education Activities including an Essay Contest on Freedom

Letters to the Editor of various newspapers and journals

Letters to Government Representatives; writing articles

Processions and Marches (Next USCCB-summoned event is October 20th.)

Signage, ads, bulletin boards, flyer, mailers.

Meetings and Discussion Groups; Movies, Guest Speakers

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 info@FestivalforFreedom.com 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!

Contact Us

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



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