Archdiocesan Prayer Breakfast speaker reminds faithful of ‘good news in a noisy world’

July 9, 2024

George Weigel gives his keynote address during during the 2024 Archdiocesan Prayer Breakfast in Houston on June 21. (Photo by Jonah Dycus/Herald)

HOUSTON — Hundreds of local Catholics gathered in faith and fellowship for the June 21 Archdiocesan Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton Americas-Houston in downtown Houston.

The speaker for the event was George Weigel, a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Catholic theologian and St. John Paul II’s American biographer.  

In his welcoming comments to those in attendance, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo reflected on the reasons for hosting the annual prayer breakfast — community and formation.  

“The community aspect is evident,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “This morning, we have gathered from every corner of this local Church. We represent nearly every socioeconomic and ethnic demographic in what is truly the most diverse city in the United States. And yet, with all these differences, we are united in one faith. In fact, it’s why I love Houston so much … it’s one Catholic faith, and it’s practiced well.” 

In highlighting the formational component of the Prayer Breakfast, “we welcome leading thinkers, speakers, theologians and public figures, and we are reaffirmed in our desire to integrate our faith and our daily life,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “This gathering acknowledges the need for all persons to be supported in prayer as they strive to encounter the living God. It is my own desire that each person who joins us today will leave sensing he or she has been nourished, challenged and renewed in faith.” 

The Prayer Breakfast theme this year was “The Good News in a Noisy World,” and Weigel spoke in detail about responding to such trials. 

“We face many, many challenges, not least a toxic culture that is determined to undermine and erode everything we believe and cherish,” Weigel said. “But the Holy Spirit is animating good things among us. (These good things) should be celebrated and supported, and in doing so, we will take to heart a wonderful saying of Pope Pius XI …  ‘Let us thank God that He makes us live among the present problems because it is no longer permitted to anyone to be mediocre.’” 

Weigel, awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland on May 13, is the author of The New York Times bestselling biography of St. John Paul II, “Witness to Hope,” published in 1999 and its sequel, “The End and the Beginning.”  

In speaking to assemblies throughout the country and other parts of the world, Weigel said he often reminds those in attendance that there are “libraries of Church history,” but only one divinely inspired book on the subject matter — the Acts of the Apostles. 

“It ends with a shipwreck, and the shipwreck becomes the occasion to extend the mission where the Gospel had not been proclaimed before,” Weigel said. “I’ve come to think of that as a metaphor, a biblical metaphor for the life of the Church. (There are) always going to be shipwrecks. There will be challenges. But if we understand those challenges as occasions to extend the mission, proclaim the Lord, offer friendship with Him where that proposal has not been extended before — then even the shipwrecks can be turned into occasions to spread the Gospel.” 

Weigel is the author or editor of more than 30 other books, many of which have been translated into other languages. Among the most recent are “The Fragility of Order: Catholic Reflections on Turbulent Times” (2018); “The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission” (2020); and “Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable” (2021).

His essays, op-ed columns and reviews appear regularly in major opinion journals and newspapers across the U.S. A frequent guest on television and radio, he is also a senior Vatican analyst for NBC News. His weekly column, “The Catholic Difference,” is syndicated to 85 newspapers and magazines in seven countries. 

Weigel received a B.A. from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore and an M.A. from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto. He is the recipient of 19 honorary doctorates in fields including divinity, philosophy, law and social science, and has been awarded the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Poland’s Gloria Artis Gold Medal and Lithuania’s Diplomacy Star.