“Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.”
More than 40 students, faculty and staff gathered early morning Feb. 8 for the annual prayer breakfast in the Mabee Dining Center at Newman University.
With the theme of “Together we Pray,” the faith-filled event followed the tradition of inter-religious and ecumenical prayer, reflections and song. A hot breakfast was served by Great Western Dining.
“We are a Newman family made up of persons with differing religious identifications — Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and others — or none,” student Elise Helfrich said. “We are one family, each and all sons and daughters of God with human dignity and deserving of respect. We gather to celebrate with hope and to support one another in our sufferings through our presence with each other and the power of prayer.”
Director of Music Deanne Zogleman, along with accompanist Carole Pracht, led the Newman chorale for a lively performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Director of Security Mo Floyd then led an opening prayer on behalf of the prayer breakfast committee, asking God to protect all those on campus, praying for wisdom for the leaders, compassion for students as well as peace for those experiencing struggles.
“Help us to shine your light in this dark world and to love others we come in contact with each day just as you have loved us from the beginning,” Floyd said.
Senior Divya Murali, an international student, spoke about what she learned during her transformative experience at a Buddhist monastery in the mountains of New York over the semester break.
“At first, it was very scary,” she explained. “They were a bunch of strangers and I was a stranger to them. It took me a few days to get comfortable. But there was good food, a healthy environment and it left me feeling peaceful. I wrote in my journal that this was the best thing I’d ever done for myself and I recommend everyone visit a monastery if they can.”
Murali invited guests to meditate for two minutes as they closed their eyes and focused on their breathing. After a period of silence, she concluded, “A few moments of meditation can take us a long way.”
“Community is where it all comes into place. Anytime — when you wake up with your parents, spouse, friends — encourage them and initiate reflection for just five minutes,” she added. “Religion can be a personal preference but spirituality is a journey we all must take at some point, and that connects us as a people.”
First-year student Meya Warren and junior Asher Khokhar led the guests in a responsive reflection of scripture readings and Associate Professor of Nursing Nancy Lugo-Baez reflected on God’s steadfast presence in her life. Sophomore Maggie Koenig shared her favorite passages from her days of binge-reading the Bible.
Just as a potter shapes clay into a vessel, the attendees asked for God’s grace in “shaping us into true disciples of your way.”
“Enduring afflictions or hardships is difficult,” attendees read together from the program. “We are able to do so only because we pray. Because we trust and hope in God’s faithfulness and we believe that God’s mercies are never finished.”
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