May 22. 2014 1:31PM
Hundreds join Newton Mayor Warren at Prayer Breakfast
“If Newton needs Boston, we’ll be there,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told the approximately 600 people gathered for the Newton Mayor’s Community Prayer Breakfast.
“Just as I know if Boston needs Newton, you’ll be there.”
The 40th annual event was held at Boston College early Wednesday morning, and drew city employees, local and state elected officials and members of the clergy from religious organizations across the city.
Mayor Setti Warren said the breakfast speaks to the city’s values and that’s why turnout is high every year.
“This is an opportunity for people to come together and reflect on how fortunate we are to live in one of the best communities in the country,” Warren said, “but also to rededicate ourselves to working together, community service, and breaking down the silos that naturally separate us.”
After an a capella performance by members of the Newton South Madrigals, Rev. Stacy Swain, president of the Newton Clergy Association, welcomed the crowd.
“Harmony is what we strive for in this community,” Swain said, “and harmony is what we celebrate today.”
In his opening prayer, Rabbi Keith Stern, of Temple Beth Avodah, asked for the courage to grow together as a community.
“We have many differences of opinion,” Stern said, “but we cannot and must not succumb to divisiveness.”
Mayor Walsh told a brief version of his life’s story, emphasizing all the ways he has been shaped and supported by different communities.
“The story of my life is about community and shared values,” Walsh said.
Walsh is the son of Irish immigrants and grew up in St. Margaret’s Parish in Dorchester. When he was 7 years old, doctors diagnosed him with cancer and the church community, his father’s union, and his neighbors helped the family through the ordeal. At the age of 11, Walsh was cancer-free, he said.
After leaving college, Walsh said he started working in construction and “started partying.” He said he was having fun at first, but then he realized he was drinking out of necessity and went into rehab on Cape Cod, where he found another community that has supported him. Walsh said he’s been sober since April 23, 1995.
“You have to think every day about how your actions affect other people,” Walsh said. “Whether your address is in Newton or Boston, we’re all in this together.”
Superintendent David Fleishman announced the winners of Rotary Award scholarships, Gabrielle Woodberry, Sasha Restrepo and Emma Tavolieri.
The 2014 Mayor Mann Community Service Awards were given to Ken Brennan, former CEO of The Village Bank, and Caroline Genco, who runs the Christina Clarke Genco Foundation, which sponsors an annual Mother’s Day bike race.
The Love Tones, from Myrtle Baptist Church, invited the crowd to sing “This Little Light of Mine” along with them – and the breakfast ended with song.
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