CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ breakfast in the Boston area offered prayers for the victims of the marathon bombings, as speakers encouraged students to evangelize within their communities.
“In times like these, when we are reminded of the broken world we live in, we are given the opportunity to let Christ shine through all the clearer,” said Justin Petrisek, Focus team director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is located in Cambridge, Mass.
Bomb explosions at the April 15 marathon in Boston killed three people and wounded more than 250 others. Within days, authorities began a manhunt in pursuit of suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, resulting in the death of the former and the arrest of the latter.
MIT police officer Sean Collier was reportedly killed by the suspects when they crept up upon him and shot him several times in an attempt to steal his gun.
Petrisek said the prayer breakfast was “a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a community in Boston, especially in light of all that has happened these last couple of weeks.”
Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston celebrated Mass before the April 23 breakfast, offering it for the victims of the bombings.
The prayer breakfast, called “Reach,” is held regularly to help local community members gather in prayer and fellowship and encounter Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
Similar prayer breakfasts have been held this year in the cities of Washington, Kansas City and Omaha. The final event this year will take place in Philadelphia on May 10.
Attendees hear inspirational speakers and learn how to evangelize their families, parishes, workplaces and communities, Focus said.
Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, former Gonzaga University president and current president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith in Irvine, Calif., delivered the keynote speech. He focused on the pursuit of true happiness as the key to evangelization.
Curtis Martin, president and founder of Focus, said there are three things needed for a successful life: “to encounter God and to come to know him … to come to know his plan for you … and to pursue that plan with passion.”
“If we do that, then we’re going to have successful lives. If we don’t, then, in some way, we’ll never become who we were meant to be … and the fight needs to be fought in the hearts and minds of our young leaders,” Martin said.
Other speakers at the event included the former first lady of Mexico, Margarita Zavala de Calderón, and Sister Bethany Madonna Burwell of the Sisters of Life.
Levi Rash, a Focus missionary at Boston University, said the prayer breakfast reminded him that the scope of the Catholic faith “goes beyond the college campus” and that “there are faithful men and women all over the United States and the world who are fighting for Christ, as well as supporting the way Christ is using Focus in his Church.”