By CAROLINE MURRAY
Bishop Edward B. Scharfen-berger of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany will conduct a holy hour at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville Saturday, during a two-week religious freedom movement initiated by the Catholic Bishops of the United States.
"It is basically a two-week period the bishops celebrate every year to advance the cause of freedom of religion," the diocese's Father Kenneth Doyle said.
Doyle said the hour-long service will start at 7 p.m. and he invites all to join Scharfenberger for a series of hymns, prayers and religious songs.
The holy hour is in support of the national organization's larger event called the Fortnight for Freedom, which is taking place from June 21 through July 4. According to a press release, this is a time when the liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political powers.
Doyle said the diocese selected the shrine as the location to host the holy hour because of its religious history.
The release said the shrine is the site of martyrs Isaac Jogues, Rene Goupil and John Lalande and is also the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekawitha.
"It is at the shrine of martyrs because people have suffered for their faith throughout history," Doyle said.
According to a press release, the national organization is advocating against a host of government mandates it believes are threats to First Amendment rights. Doyle said specifically, a recent federal law requiring that religious institutions provide the inclusion of contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs in their health programs.
"So it really is to argue in favor in religious freedom so people can be faithful to their religious beliefs," Doyle said.