Everyone has a calling, Cardinal Cupich says at city prayer breakfast

By Michelle Martin
Sunday, December 11, 2016

Everyone has a calling, and that they can call on God’s grace to help them accomplish more than they ever thought possible, Cardinal Cupich reminded attendees at the Chicago Leadership Prayer Breakfast on Dec. 2.

Too often, he said, people find themselves in situations where they know they are going to “come up short” on their own. “That’s why the grace that goes beyond my resources is so important,” Cardinal Cupich said. “If we rely only on ourselves, we turn our callings into careers, and we become not leaders, but celebrities.”

Organized by Chicago Sunday Evening Club, the Chicago Leadership Prayer Breakfast gathers an interfaith community to pray for the city and its leadership.

The cardinal urged the 700 people who attended the breakfast at the Chicago Hilton to talk to young people about finding a sense of calling. Doing so, he said, can help relieve some of the pressure students feel to get the best grades, get into the best college, find the best job and so on.

“They feel like they have to prove themselves over and over again,” he said. ”They don’t have to prove themselves. They’ve been sent into the world for God’s purpose.”

Sharing his thoughts on leadership, Cardinal Cupich said he also relies on collaboration with staff members and others. He cited the “80 percent rule”: “If they do things the way I want 80 percent of the time, I don’t worry about the other 20 percent.” He added that the results of what they do with that other 20 percent are far better than anything he would have asked for.

But real collaboration is not always easy, he said.

“It means we have to sit across from people who disagree with us and give them permission to tell us why they think we’re wrong,” Cardinal Cupich said. “It’s important for us to keep in mind that we’re all learners.

That led to his third point: the understanding that everyone is on a journey together. He cited Pope Francis’ assertion that to be effective, a pastor must be a shepherd who “knows the smell of his sheep” by living among them.

That means that a pastor cannot ignore the realities that his people live with, Cardinal Cupich said. The nighttime ride-alongs he has gone on with the Chicago police superintendent have shown him a side of Chicago that might be foreign to many.

“It is so clear to me that we have deeply segregated neighborhoods where people feel locked in,” he said, on a day when the Chicago Tribune reported that there had been 700 homicides in the city in 2016, with a month still to go. “The violence in our streets is just a symptom of all the problems underneath it.”

Working with charitable organizations can help those who are privileged keep in contact with people in need, so that they can have a better idea of the realities that people live with, he said.

The cardinal said he also relies on the companionship he has found among other religious, civic and business leaders in the city. When his appointment as archbishop of Chicago was announced in 2014, he spoke of wanting to develop partnerships, he said, but “companionship” signals a warmer relationship.

“When we break bread together, we share life,” he said. “We do share life together, and we share leadership together.”

The breakfast included prayers in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions, and remarks by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinckle and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

Durbin asked those gathered to remember in their prayers the “DREAMers,” or young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children who now want a way to get legal residency status.  Durbin has long advocated for the DREAM Act, legislation that would allow such young people a path to citizenship. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to deport illegal immigrants, although since the election he has said that he would deport only those that have committed crimes.

“They are undocumented, they are in America, they know no other country,” Durbin said if the DREAMers. “We’re going to make the DREAM a reality. It will take prayers to make that happen.”


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