The Diocese of Des Moines

Thousands drawn to Independence Celebration Walk & Picnic
The diocese's Independence Celebration Walk & Picnic was held Sunday, July 1.
Thousands drawn to Independence Celebration Walk & Picnic — 

   Thousands of people braved near 100-degree heat to celebrate freedom and religious liberty on Sunday, July 1 with a walk from St. Ambrose Cathedral in downtown Des Moines to the Iowa Capitol's east lawn for a picnic, prayer and speakers who talked about witnessing to the faith through action at hospitals, schools and social services. 

   At the Capitol, speakers talked about religious liberty and the threats to it through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate related to the Affordable Care Act. The HHS mandate shrinks the definition of a religious organization, making hospitals, schools and religious outreach services nonexempt from its rules. The HHS mandate also requires these religious organizations to provide services that are immoral.

   During her prayer reflection, Laura Wenman, vice president of mission integration for Mercy Medical Center, said, "The tradition of compassionate health care at Mercy is strongly rooted in the Gospel and it  bears characteristics that cannot, and should not, be mandated or driven by legislation."

   Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, encouraged people to take out their cell phones and text the word "Freedom" to 377-377 to get updates on religious liberty issues facing the Church. He also said, "I encourage you to take your faith with you everwhere, especially the public square. Where we lead, the politicians will follow. I encourage you to be guided more by your moral convictions than by your attachment to a political party or special interest group."

   Paul Rupprecht, chair of Catholic Charities Board of Directors, said, "Catholic Charities provides not only food, shelter and clothing to thousands of people, but also does so with the compassion taught by Jesus and the competency needed to help our friends and neighbors reach self-sufficiency. Catholic Charities is truly a Catholic religious institution and a genuine ministry of the Church."