By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNS) — Canonizing Sri Lanka’s first saint, who ministered to Catholics under persecution three centuries earlier, Pope Francis proclaimed what he called the “fundamental human right” of religious freedom.

“Each individual must be free, alone or in association with others, to seek the truth, and to openly express his or her religious convictions, free from intimidation and external compulsion,” the pope said Jan. 14, before a congregation of more than 500,000 in a beachfront park on the Indian Ocean.

As part of the Diocese of Tyler’s Safe Environment Program, Bishop Joseph Strickland has designated the week of January 10-16, 2015, as a “Week of Prayer for Those Affected by Abuse.”

During the week, every parish, mission and community has been asked by Bishop Strickland to offer prayers for the victims, families and others affected by abuse.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Deacon Michael T. Doyle Sr. will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 14 at 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Nacogdoches.

Bishop Joseph Strickland and Msgr. James Young will be the main celebrants.

Deacon Doyle passed away last Friday after a long battle with cancer.

St. Joseph’s Parish in Marshall will host a “Cupid Does Mardi Gras” event benefiting St. Joseph Catholic School on Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Marshall Convention Center.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the event will feature live music from the Steve Wells Band and catering by the Blue Frog Grill, along with a beer and wine cash bar. The evening will also include a silent auction, raffle and dancing.

Tickets are $35 with tables for eight available for $250.

All proceeds will benefit St. Joseph Catholic School in Marshall.

For more information and reservations, contact chairman Ed Juno at 318-272-5734.

The Diocese of Tyler Office of Faith Formation will host a series of three workshops focused on assisting parishes and families to develop practices and programs for those with special needs.

Organized by Linda Khirallah Porter, the director of faith formation for the diocese, the fist of the three workshop scheduled for this Saturday (Jan. 10) will cover what resources are available for those with special needs, the role of clergy, parents and others in catechizing with those diagnosed as having special needs, and how environmental factors can play an important role in the process.