As more than 100 Independence community members – from city leaders to nonprofit representatives – gathered at the Community of Christ Auditorium for the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, the focus spanned from the local to the national.
Mayor Eileen Weir began the event, celebrating its 44th year, with a mention of national, highly publicized crises – the recent shooting and wildfires in California. Weir encouraged guests to donate to the California Fire Foundation, which assists victims.
With the backdrop of these tragedies, Weir also reflected on the importance of appreciating and fostering peace. The event continually emphasized that citizens have the freedom to hold and express many different faiths.
The event welcomed Sister Andrea Kantner, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist and a founder of the Franciscan Mission Warehouse, as guest speaker. Sister Kantner, set to accept an International Peace Award from the Community of Christ in April, also illustrated Independence’s larger impact.
“I said, ‘God, what do you really want us to do?’” Sister Kantner recalled, describing the sense of desperation she felt when a container of medical supplies got stuck in customs early in the warehouse’s history. “The doors of the world were open after that.”
Despite challenges, Franciscan Mission Warehouse has now saved thousands of lives and stopped pounds of medical equipment from ending up in landfills. They’ve donated to facilities in El Salvador, Brazil, Dominican Republic and elsewhere. Often, donors have told Kantner that they would’ve thrown the equipment in the trash if not for the warehouse’s program.
“That feels like a sign that if we wanted or needed something, it was ours,” Sister Kantner said.
Kantner concluded with a request for the community – that an organization or a group step forward to house the donations that Franciscan Mission Warehouse collects for local Independence recipients. According to Sister Kantner, one of the biggest challenges for the organization is trying to manage donations at both a local and international level.
“What I see in this room are people who are helping to put the world back together,” she said.