National Day of Prayer observance offers pro-life messages, pleas for God’s blessings
By Tom Maguire | Associate editor
Bishop Douglas J. Lucia asked God to instill a multitude of virtues in people on the National Day of Prayer.
Dozens gathered May 6 for the outdoor ceremony at the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse, across from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. After mounting the 21 steps the speakers sat mostly in the shade and the onlookers had the sunshine on a pleasantly cool day as they sent up “Amens” to the community and church leaders.
“Lord, pour out your LOVE, LIFE, and LIBERTY” was the national theme.
‘Go to the periphery’
Bishop Lucia asked all to pray “that I may move beyond myself, that I may transcend manmade borders, that I may go to the periphery, that I may teach the hidden exile, that I may offer generous hospitality, and that I may rid all selfishness from my heart.
“In this way may I help create conditions where all life is acknowledged as sacred and wanted, where every person can thrive, where community replaces isolation, where racism is stamped out, where justice is restored …, and where the human family can live in harmony.
“Lord, pour out your love, let your Holy Spirit fill me. Let it bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in my actions. Guide us on the journey to … love and peace, Lord. Help us live out your great commandments of loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. …
“May your vision of a world where no one is excluded, and the Earth’s goods are shared and cared for by all, be our vision — our vision as men and women who are loved with your everlasting love, forever and ever. Amen.”
Along with Christians for Syracuse, other sponsors of the observance were the Syracuse Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which seeks to lift the local standard of living, and the WMHR Christian radio station, in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer sponsors (https://www.nationaldayofprayer.net.)
Included were the Pledge of Allegiance led by local children, dancing, and the singing of “God Bless America” by the choir from NY Adult & Teen Challenge — Syracuse, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.
In his opening prayer, the president-elect of Christians for Syracuse, Pastor Bill Miller of Redeemer Covenant Church, Liverpool, said: “Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that you are God over all. We thank you, Father, for the many blessings that have already been bestowed on Central New York; we pray that you would continue. Lord, look at the hearts of the people here, hear our cry, in Jesus’ name.”
Chief and Scripture
Syracuse Chief of Police Kenton T. Buckner, the keynoter, said, “I’m having one of those days where I need prayer. … There are days that I feel that our country and community are in a very fragile place, to where we’re either going to turn in a direction of our promise or continue down this path of disappointment.
“And prayer is certainly something that I think … should be one of the key ingredients that we use as our plan going forward. … We use this opportunity to remind us to pray every day and often.
“You ask, Chief Buckner, what should we pray for? It is my sincere belief that there are three primary pillars that determine the trajectory of an individual’s life. They are as follows: the church, the family, and our education system. … You cannot go wrong if you include these topics in your daily prayer.”
He also asked for special prayers for “our first responders and specifically the relationship between police and the community that we serve.” He cited Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
The vast majority of the police officers, he said, “do an outstanding job under some very difficult and increasingly difficult circumstances.”
Chief Buckner closed with his “favorite leadership Scripture,” Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.”
The Rev. David Harris of First Baptist Church of Syracuse asked the Lord to “pour out your love so that love might not just be our reality but our identity. … Pour out your love so that we love those who come across our line of sight, whether physically or virtually. … Pour out your love so that hate no longer abides. …
“Pour out your love here today, so that we might not just hear these words, but that they may warm our hearts and transform our spirit so that we do not leave this place ever the same.”
‘This amazing gift of life’
Christina Fadden, president of Syracuse Right to Life and deputy mayor of Liverpool, said, “Lord Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, we praise you and thank you for this amazing gift of life. We thank you for the magnificence and the mystery that we are even here all together gathered at this very moment, living and breathing and having our being because of you. …
“Lord, we ask you to give us a greater appreciation for this gift [of life] every day, and in every face we see, from the youngest, from the cry of a baby, to the smile of a 100-year-old person. … Lord, help us to grow in our love for you in a way that we would grow in our protection of this gift of life that you’ve given us.
“Be, Lord, with those who are working so hard to help us protect life and to protect us, including during this terrible and vicious pandemic worldwide. … Lord, help us grow in our love for you through protecting life, from the most helpless unborn child in the womb and that child’s mother who is in crisis, through to the elderly, the advanced in age, that we would all do our part and we would grow in serving you in this way, Lord. We thank you again for the great mystery that we are here at this time, and may we serve you in it.”
Singing “God Bless America” was the choir from NY Adult & Teen Challenge — Syracuse, a drug and alcohol program. The administrator, Michele Hurchla, said the program is “all about accepting Jesus” and living for him, “because only he can change us.”
“I loved the different prayers of the leaders” of the prayer service, she said.
She believes that “everyone should come down on [the first Thursday of May] every year to honor God” on the National Day of Prayer.
Another attendee, Saundra Macidyn, administrative assistant for the Foundation Office of the Diocese of Syracuse, said, “I felt that our hearts were open to God in prayer as we felt his presence among us. I know that prayer deepens and strengthens my relationship with God.”
“We need to pray, pray, pray,” Hurchla said.