During the 20th century, a huge swath of Americans found economic security through manufacturing jobs. Not only did employment at these factories provide a stable income for families, but many provided social clubs and more on their growing campuses. However, by the end of the century, this security began to fade. Domestic manufacturing declined and businesses left the cities that they once supported economically and socially.
Many of these old factories continued to sit vacant and a lot of cities tore them down. Fort Wayne, however, breathed life into the old General Electric factory that sits just south of its urban core. This project, known as Electric Works, seeks to reinvigorate a city and neighborhood left scarred by economic shifts of the last several decades by inviting businesses and citizens alike to bring light to this old campus. One initiative in particular, known as PrayerWorksFW, seeks to unite the city through Christian unity.
The prayer room provides opportunities for various types of prayer and reflection, understanding that not everyone prays in the same manner. A large wooden cross stands in the center of the room, surrounded by chairs for those who want to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity.
A few curtained prayer stalls offer space for private reflection, with multi-lingual quotes from the Our Father on the wall. Two maps adorn another wall, asking those in the room to pray for not only the City of Fort Wayne, but also the whole world. Next to that is a wall on which to place prayer intentions. A self-serve coffee bar is also available on the ground floor of PrayerWorks.
On the loft level, desks for study and reflection on Sacred Scripture stand ready for intrigued minds. At the back of the loft is a private prayer room if two people wish to engage in audible prayer together.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told Catholics and pastors in Fort Wayne that participation in the prayer room is acceptable, and Father Brian Isenbarger read the bishop’s endorsement at the 24/7 prayer room’s dedication on Saturday, Jan. 7.
“Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Roman Catholic Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, is supportive of the PrayerWorks initiative in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Regarding parishes in the diocese, it is completely within the freedom of the pastor of the parish to accept any invitations for participation in this initiative.”
Several sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration joined him on stage, as well as Father Thomas Shoemaker, who led the room full of Christians of many denominations in a prayer of thanksgiving for PrayerWorks.
“We pray today for our mayor. We pray for all of our city officials. We pray for our county commissioners and our city council. We pray for all of our elected officials. Thank you, Lord, that you’ve given them the courage to run for those offices. You’ve given them the strength and the wisdom to guide us and to be leaders. We pray for all the work for our city, all the work for our community. We pray that the leaders might be the best of leaders, inspiring them working with budgets, all of the difficult decisions, guide them in all ways that are good, all the ways that will lead us to be a better and stronger community. We thank you, Lord, for the gift of them. We ask that they’ll know our appreciation. We will never forget all those who work to serve us. We ask all this in the name of our Lord, Jesus. Amen.”
Different groups can host an hour of prayer in this new space at Electric Works, and the first Catholic hour hosted by a Catholic parish was led by St. Charles Borromeo on Sunday, Jan. 8. A handful of people stopped by to pray during this hour, including several people from local Catholic parishes.
Anna Laisure, who helped to lead this hour of prayer, led the room in a prayer for Christian unity. Next, Emma Peat, who also helped to host the St. Charles Borromeo hour, gave a prayer of thanksgiving.
“Lord Jesus, I thank you from the deepest parts of my heart for this opportunity, for this place, for this new seed in our city,” Peat prayed. “I ask that you help it to grow. Help us to fertilize, to water, to tend for this new opportunity in the place that we live. Lord, I know this is a small place, and we are small people in the grand scheme of things. Fort Wayne, Indiana, is not on the world’s map. I know that you can do great things with something small. And so I humbly ask you, Lord, do something great with this small place.”
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