September 8, 2017

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski kicks off First Friday prayer breakfast

Staff report

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski kicks off the First Friday Prayer Breakfast series Sept. 8., at the Bishop Marshall Center in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD – Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski helped launch the 2017-2018 First Friday Prayer Breakfast at the Bishop Marshall Center adjacent to St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Springfield, Friday, Sept. 8. This was the third consecutive year Bishop Rozanski kicked-off the monthly gatherings.

Because the first Friday this month fell on Labor Day Weekend, the event was delayed a week. A few dozen gathered for the 7:30 a.m. Mass and Sacred Heart Novena in the Holy Spirit Chapel, followed by a light breakfast and talk by the bishop.

In his talk, Bishop Rozanski highlighted the strides made in the last 50 years of dialogue with the Lutheran Church, 500 years after the Reformation. The topic is one close to the bishop’s heart, as he currently chairs the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. During his tenure, he has made efforts to increase dialogue between the Catholic Church and other faith communities.

“As we mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation next month (October 31, 2017), I wanted to highlight that the past 50 years since the Second Vatican Council have brought much progress to the field of ecumenical and interfaith relations,” the bishop told iObserve.

He went on to say, “Since this is the significant anniversary of the Reformation, we have made great strides with the Lutheran Church in our dialogues. The past 50 years have brought significant agreements on the nature of church, Eucharist and ordained ministry as is evident in the publication of ‘Declaration on the Way’ which summarizes 50 years of dialogue, highlights 32 points of agreement and also points the way to the future of our dialogue.”

During his talk and in comments afterwards, he credited Pope Francis with encouraging greater dialogue.

“Pope Francis has been a great boon to our ecumenical and interfaith dialogues by taking very seriously his role as ‘Pontifex Maximus,’ literally meaning bridge builder. There have been many walls that have been built over these five hundred years, but significant bridges have been built over the last 50 thus far.”

He concluded his talk observing that society as a whole and the political parties here in the United States in particular can learn from Catholic/Lutheran dialogue.

“Lutherans and Catholics have not allowed the 500 years of separation to keep us from having a respectful dialogue with one another. With patience and humility, we have honestly discussed our differences in civil and respectful dialogue, thus allowing us to make progress. We can be a model for respectful discussions, particularly for our political dialogues that have become all too acrimonious in our day.”

The First Friday Prayer Breakfast is held once each month at the Bishop Marshall Center. Begun in 1984 by former Springfield Mayor Billy Sullivan and his late wife, Elizabeth, the monthly gathering includes Mass at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast and a presentation by a speaker.

When the prayer breakfasts were introduced, they were originally held at St. Francis Chapel on Bridge Street in Springfield, said Larry Eagan, coordinator of the September event. Eagan’s uncle, the late William Collins, of Collins Electric, was involved with the prayer breakfast since its inception, often bringing Eagan along. Since Collins’ death in 2015, Eagan, co-president of Collins Electric, has been serving as one of the speaker coordinators.

Eagan said the First Friday Prayer Breakfast offers spiritual enrichment as well as guest speakers.

“It attracts engaged Catholics who want to find out first-hand about our church and its ministries,” he said. He likened the monthly event to a “live version of ‘Real to Reel,’” as many of the speakers who have spoken at the breakfasts have also appeared on the Catholic Communications’ weekly television magazine program.

“Our speakers address issues involving the family, pro-life, social justice, religious life and youth ministry,” said Eagan. “And it’s nice also that during the question and answer period you can find out even more about the speaker and ministry they serve.”

The next First Friday Prayer Breakfast is slated for Oct. 6 and will feature newly appointed State Appeals Court Judge Edward J. McDonough as guest speaker.