Support persecuted Christians in the Middle East at Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast

The plight of Christians in the Middle East continues to go unheard by much of the world. Still, organizations such as St. Rafka’s Mission of Hope and Mercy persist and fight to make the voices of the persecuted heard.

Once again, this year St. Rafka’s Mission of Hope and Mercy will be hosting the fourth annual Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast Aug. 17-18. A special Mass for peace gathering various local religious leaders will take place at the Cathedral Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m. and the prayer breakfast will be the morning of Aug. 18 at 7 a.m. Both events are open to the public.

The breakfast has become something of an annual tradition since the launch of the Peace, Love and Co-Existence (PLACE) Initiative in 2014 and is co-supported by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Bishop Elias Zaidan from the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon in the U.S. Special guests to this year’s breakfast include Chaldean Archbishop of Lebanon Michel Kassargi and keynote speaker Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union.

St. Rafka’s Mission of Hope and Mercy will be hosting the fourth annual Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast Aug. 17-18.

Among the topics discussed at the breakfast will be a look back at how the legacy of President Ronald Reagan and St. John Paul II can help to advance the cause of religious liberty and save the world’s persecuted Christians.

Father Andre Mahanna, pastor of St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church and founder of the Mission of Hope and Mercy, wrote a letter to pastors of the Archdiocese of Denver outlining the importance of the breakfast and its goal of raising $50,000 this year to directly cover emergency medical needs of the 4,500 families the mission serves in Lebanon.

“The prayer breakfast comes as a response for a much needed and necessary effort to raise awareness about the persecution of Christians, especially in the Middle East,” Father Mahanna wrote. “Our goal is to raise $50,000 that will go directly to Archbishop Michel Kassargi, covering the emergency medical needs of 4,500 families. These refugees’ living conditions are so extreme that babies are dying on the steps of hospitals due to the lack of funds.

“Our breakfast is an example, where by, the Eastern and Western lungs of the Church come together in an effort to try and stop this humanitarian crisis.” he continued. “With guidance from the Holy Spirit, it is our hope and our mission, that through this event and with your help we will increase a renewed faith and hope in our fellow Christians by assisting in their liberation from ongoing persecution.”

Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast

Friday, Aug. 17
Mass for Peace, 6:30 p.m.
Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

 

Saturday, Aug. 18
Prayer Breakfast, 7 a.m.–1 p.m.
Knights of Columbus Hall
1555 Grant St., Denver
$100 per person; sponsorships available

Visit missionofhopeandmercy.org for tickets.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash