Victoria’s Catholic prayer breakfast has returned after an absence of almost 15 years.
Sponsored by the People of Hope, the charismatic prayer group based at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the breakfast drew a crowd of more than 80 to the Comfort Inn on Blanshard Street Nov. 17. Fr. Karam Alraban, a refugee priest from Iraq now serving at Holy Cross Parish in Victoria, was guest speaker.
“I think it was an event wanted by the Holy Spirit,” said Lynn Weedmark, leader of the prayer group and chief organizer of the breakfast. “The enthusiasm from the people who organized it and attended it was overwhelming.”
The event offered praise music led by Brian and Rose Harlow, a full breakfast, the talk by Fr. Alraban, and prayer teams to pray with those who wished.
The group plans to continue presenting prayer breakfasts. Target date for the next one is February, Weedmark said, but no further details have been determined
Fr. Alraban, 30, told the story of his life, from the time he decided at age 7 to become a priest. He was ordained in 2011.
In Iraq, Fr. Alraban served his flock’s spiritual and material needs in dangerous areas of Baghdad, as well as working in youth ministry and human rights and interfaith initiatives. But he fled to a safer area in northern Iraq after he received death threats and his car was shot at on a trip to buy groceries.
He entered Canada in 2014 on a tourist visa and applied for asylum, and after a time with Jesuits in Toronto, he was invited to the Diocese of Victoria by Bishop Gary Gordon. Bishop Gordon met him at the airport and astonished him by carrying his heavy luggage. He was not familiar with bishops that humble.
“I asked myself, is this really a bishop?” he said.
In a question-and-answer session after his talk, Fr. Alraban was asked what he now sees his mission to be. He said it is constantly changing.
“Every day I find there is another call,” he said. “If we have a living faith, it will be a living mission. God will not stop calling.”
Prayer breakfasts began in Victoria in the early 90s and continued several times a year for about 10 years, but stopped when the restaurant then used as a location closed and organizers could not find another one that was suitable.
The next breakfast will be advertised on the Diocesan Calendar of Events, in parish bulletins, and on posters.
by Richard Dunstan