National Catholic Prayer Breakfast
June 6, 2017
I was humbled to be present in Washington, D.C. for the 13th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast to represent The Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope/St Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy whose mission it is to help Save Christian Middle East through a global message of peace, love and coexistence for the children of Abraham in the birthplace of monotheistic faith, a concept I refer to as P.L.A.C.E. for Faith.
“Each year, over 1,000 of our nation’s most influential Catholics gather in Washington, D.C. to pray for the direction and leadership of the country,” says a release from the organization. “This year’s address by Vice President Mike Pence to the attendees is in keeping with the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast’s impressive list of past speakers.”
My hope at this event was that American Catholic leaders would know about, stand up for, speak to and assist in protecting Christians in the Middle East. This in fact was the message of Vice President Pence and of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and in every speech it was very apparent that American Catholic leaders and members of our government are committed to save Christianity in the lands where it all began.
“This president stands for religious liberty here in America, and around the world,” Pence said at the 13th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
“I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President that stands without apology for the sanctity of life,” Pence said. He also spoke about the Mexico City policy, which blocks federal funding for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling or advocates for decriminalization.
Finally the vice president discussed the administration’s fight against terrorism, focusing on the religious persecution of Christian groups in the Middle East. He highlighted the Coptic Christian bombings on Palm Sunday in Egypt in early April.
“This administration hears you, this administration stands with you,” Pence promised the crowd, saying that the protection of persecuted people of faith is a foreign policy priority. “We’ll take the fight to the terrorist on our terms on their soil,” he asserted.
“He’s not just talked about it, he’s taken action to protect men and women of the faith,” said Pence.
The breakfast, established in 2004 in response to Saint John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization,” is an annual non-partisan gathering of Catholic religious, political and business leaders.
Also speaking this year were U.S. Military Services Archbishop Timothy Broglio, His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl of Washington D.C and Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, founder of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth and a lay movement called Love Your Neighbor.
Cardinal Wuerl thanked American Catholics and encouraged them to do whatever they can to save Christianity in the Middle East, “in the lands where it all began.”
Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville, who is with the Cardinal’s office, gave the invocation. The invocation and the topic of the day was Christian Middle East.
Rev. Dorsonville recalled Pope Francis speaking in 2011, "I cannot imagine a Middle East without Christians!" Finally, the invocation was concluded with the words, "Let us pray for the persecuted, for the immigrant, for the homeless, and for the refugees. All on the basis of faith, hope and love!"
As Founder and Director of St Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy, I want to thank everyone who has been helping me to spread the message of the 2014 P.L.A.C.E. for Faith initiative co-authored by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, U.S. Catholic Maronite Bishop Elias Zaidan of Our Lady of Lebanon and myself.
Much of my current ecumenical outreach and inter-faith work is to strive concretely for more unity and collaboration in works of charity and evangelization. My aim is to help all to perceive the importance of our Judeo-Christian principles and how they help to advance faith, hope and love in the entire world. I want to see members of all faiths in America working together to save, educate and assist the needs of Christian refugees and other minorities who are the victims of genocide in the Middle East and who globally stand at the frontline of persecution. Working together, we can be God’s apostles to our communities, leaders and public officials, calling them back to our Judeo-Christian foundations and reawakening the voice of God in the public square.
I now see this effort bearing fruit for the Lord in increased awareness for the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and a growing desire to seek a solutions from within our faith to the violence and unrest of the region.
This summer at our 3rd Annual Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast hosted by St Rafka parish in Lakewood, CO and the Mission of Hope and Mercy, 9 am – 12 pm, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, we will be looking more in-depth at the concepts of peace, love and co-existence for the children of Abraham in the Middle East.
All are invited to attend and bring your faith-friends with you.
May God bless you,
Fr. Andre YS Mahanna
President and Director, The Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope/St Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy
U.S. President, Apostolic Union of Clergy
Director of Ecumenism and Inter-Faith Dialogue, Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon
Pastor, St Rafka Maronite Catholic Church