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March 15, 2009

Prayer breakfast aims to restore hope, faith in uncertain times

By Joyce Duriga


Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Hope for the future in Jesus Christ will be the message of the morning for the second annual Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast on March 27 at the Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan Ave.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the economy, many people are anxious and worried. But the folks behind the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast aim to assure people that all will be well if you trust in Jesus.

“For Catholic Christians, we know that the future is certain. We have a future,” said Brian Burch, one of the event’s organizers. “Your life will never end in emptiness if you have Christ. It will end in the greatest possible fulfillment if you have him. For Catholics there is always hope.”

After hopefully restoring hope, the breakfast is meant to inspire people to go out into the state and “be people of influence and action,” he said.

“There’s no agenda other than the agenda of the Catholic Church to sanctify our state and sanctify our world,” Burch said.

The Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast is modeled after the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C., each spring, which gathers people together to pray for the nation and its leaders. Organizers of the local nonpartisan event said they wanted to recreate an event similar to the national prayer breakfast in an effort to inspire Catholics who can’t make it to Washington every year.

Cardinal George will celebrate Mass at 6:30 a.m. at the hotel, and the breakfast follows at 7:30 a.m. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis., will be the keynote speaker. Morlino is international chaplain to Legatus, an association that seeks to support and offer spiritual development to Catholic business leaders worldwide and is chairman of the board of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. He delivered the keynote address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in 2006.

Last year, more than 500 people attended the inaugural event. Organizers are expecting more than 700 this year. Catholics from all Illinois dioceses are welcome and Catholics holding political office have been invited.

For the breakfast’s second year, one point organizers want emphasized is the notion that Illinois matters.

Those political leaders who have roots in the state are President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan and, of course, Abraham Lincoln. And, Burch added, the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal George, is from Illinois.

“It’s not merely a coincidence that God seems to be using Illinois for great things,” he said.

Catholics represent more than 30 percent of the state’s population, he said. It’s the fourth largest percentage of Catholics in any state.

“The Catholic Church has something to say to the state,” Burch said. “The goal of the breakfast is to bring that to the fore.”

Tickets are $45 and can be purchased by calling (888) 970-7776 or by visiting