The Naperville Mayor’s Interfaith Community Breakfast brought the community together on Friday December 8, 2023, at the Fry Family YMCA.
Members of different faith communities spoke to an audience of more than 350 people:
- Invocation: Tara Beth Leach, Good Shepherd Church
- Litany: Rabbi David Eber, Congregation Beth Shalom
- Closing Prayer: Imam Rizwan Ali, Islamic Center of Naperville
The morning also included several inspirational music performances:
- “Believe:” Road Show Inc. Dynamites
- “Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye Je:” Chethan Anant & Tara Swaminathan
- “Jasmine Flower” & “Back to Visit a Mom’s Home:” Dongfang Choir
- “A Million Dreams:” Kiki Southern, accompanied by Cam Green
- “Joy to the World:” Audience & Kiki Southern, accompanied by Cam Green
Mayor Scott Wehrli’s first interfaith community breakfast
The Mayor’s Interfaith Community Breakfast tradition began with Mayor Emeritus George Pradel. “He was one of my mentors and he believed the way to bring everyone together during this season to celebrate was this particular event,” said Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli. “I know Mayor Pradel was looking down on us this morning and he’s smiling at the thought that we continue to come together for the love of Naperville.”
The Mayor invoked the theme of “Dream Big” in his address saying, “That doesn’t mean it’s my dream. I want it to be our dream. A dream of a city where we know our neighbor’s names, how old their kids are, and when they go on vacation. Where the elderly know that they have a friend they can count on and who checks on them daily.
“A place where people listen to one another and actively engage in finding common ground; where giving back is the norm and not the exception; where random acts of kindness are not so random; where we respect one another, even when we don’t look, think, act, or pray the same way.
“A place where choosing the high road is the only way to get to the destination, as our dreams aren’t so far. All of those things I just mentioned. We can start making those dreams come true at this very moment.”
Fry YMCA Impact Story
Olga Hemer, a participant in the YMCA Safe ‘n Sound program spoke about her experiences with her son, Giovanni, participating in the program. The Safe ‘n Sound program offers before and after-school programs to provide youth with a safe environment for productive free time, supporting educational readiness, and success. “I realized that Safe ‘n Sound is not just a place where I drop my kid off every morning so somebody can watch him while I go to work. At Safe ‘n Sound my son wasn’t being watched. He’s being seen,” said Hemer.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Anita Thomas of North Central College
Dr. Anita Thomas, President of North Central College, gave the Keynote address. She assumed her new role on July 1, 2023. “It’s important to remember as we dream that we need to be committed to living, fully laughing as much as we can, walking in love, and really embodying love. I thought there was a phrase that says a dream deferred makes the heart sick. But in the Book of Wisdom and Proverbs, the actual phrase is that a hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. May you dream big. Maintain your sense of faith and hope and continue to walk in love,” said Thomas.
The 2023 Naperville Mayor’s Interfaith Community Breakfast will be presented on Channel 17 throughout December on Naperville Community Television.