Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bishops Call on Catholics, Fellow Americans to Support Legislative Action on Religious Liberty in Response to HHS Mandate

     On Friday, February 10, the United States bishops renewed their call for Catholics and fellow Americans to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act and to urge Congress to pass it and the Administration to sign it, in response to the "preventive services" regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011 requiring private health plans to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion.
     To write to members of Congress in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act and to read a joint letter by the Virginia bishops, visit the Virginia Catholic Conference website. You can also sign up to join the VCC's Advocacy Network to receive e-mail alerts on critical legislative issues.
    The full press release by the U.S. bishops is available online.

First Penance Day

Flowers with names of Blessed Sacrament Parish children who received
First Penance on Saturday, February 11, 2012
     About 80 children from Blessed Sacrament School and the parish's religious education program celebrated their First Penance on the morning of Saturday, February 11, 9:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  Children and parents gathered in Quinn Hall for bagels as the morning began.  Ms. Susan Doyle, Director of Religious Education, opened the day with prayer and an overview of the schedule which included three 20 minute sessions for children with their parents: a talk on the Examination of Conscience (held in the church), a craft on the topic of forgiveness (held in Quinn Hall) and a video about the Sacrament of Penance (held in the school).  Groups of children and parents divided into three teams according to colors rotated through the sessions throughout the morning. At 11:15 a.m. everyone gathered in the church for a Penance Service led by the pastor, Father John Cregan.  "Jesus always loves you," Fr. Cregan reminded the children.  "Nothing can stop God's love for you."
      The Penance Service concluded with the children going to one of many different confessions stations around the church or to the confessionals in the chapel for their First Confession.  In addition to parish priests Father Cregan, Father Killian and Father Cramer, several visiting priests heard confessions.    
    After receiving the sacrament, each child placed a colorful flower with his or her name on it onto a cross inside the church near the chapel.  Parishioners are encouraged to pray for the children who are preparing to receive their First Communion on April 30 or May 5.
      Children and parents stopped by Quinn Hall to pick up a First Penance certificate signed by Father Cregan and a celebratory cupcake made by one of the families in the parish.  As one family said, the First Penance morning was a special one because parents and children shared the morning workshops together, as well as the First Penance service, making the experience meaningful and memorable.