Methodist Ecumenical Office Director Rev. Matthew Laferty, Father Jim Puglisi, SA, and Abp Ian Ernest light a candle during a prayer vigil to kick off Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Rome. Photo credit: Methodist Ecumenical Office.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is in full swing. While celebrations have occurred across the United States, many more are taking place in the Capital of Italy.

Centro Pro Unione, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and ecumenical research and action center in Rome, has various events planned over the next few days promoting Christian unity. The week will culminate on Tuesday, January 25 with an ecumenical celebration at the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Director of Centro Pro Unione Father Jim Puglisi, SA, will be on hand for the concluding Vespers service, with Pope Francis presiding. The Pontiff will lead the ceremony for the first time since 2020, having missed last year due to a back injury.

Several other services are planned.

On Friday, January 21, a webinar will take place, discussing the importance of unity in contemporary times in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. A group of leaders from different Christian denominations will speak, including Lutheran Daoud Nassar, Zoughbi Zoughbi, a Latin-rite Catholic, Greek Orthodox Father Issa Michael Thaljieh, Dn. Ashot Ghazaryan, an Armenian Apostolic, and Methodist Rev. Angleena Keizer.

Rev. Matthew Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome, will moderate the panel. The event will be conducted in English over Zoom. To register, click here.

Another ecumenical celebration will take place Monday, January 24, at the Parish of San Vitale. Archimandrite Simeon Katsinas and Lutheran pastor Michael Jonas will participate in the ceremony.

While those services are scheduled, many others have already taken place.

On Thursday, January 20, Rev. Laferty and Gillian Kingston, Vice President of the World Methodist Council, hosted a webcast titled, “An Afternoon of Prayer and Reflections.” An ecumenical celebration of the word with Rev. Laferty followed.

Centro Pro Unione kicked off Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Monday, January 17, a day before this year’s celebration officially began, with a prayer vigil. Father Jim, Rev. Laferty and Abp Ian Ernest from the Anglican Center in Rome lit a candle in unison during the proceedings as an act of commitment to share the light of Christ with the world. The prayer vigil is available to watch online here.

Back in the United States, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute held its annual ecumenical service of the word on Wednesday, January 19.

The event, which featured readings, prayers and hymns, was livestreamed on the Friars’ Facebook page and can be rewatched here.

The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is, “We saw the star in the east, and we came to worship him,” taken from the story of the Epiphany in the second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.