For over 50 years, the National Workshop on Christian Unity has been a place for people of all Christian denominations to come together to discuss unity and reconciliation.

Father Jim Puglisi, SA, attended this year’s workshop, which was held May 3-6 at Christ Cathedral in Orange, California. The workshop kicked off a busy month of May for Father Jim, who will be participating in many more ecumenical activities.

The annual workshop is the only gathering of its kind at the national level in the world, and it brings together ecumenical representatives, ecumenists and interested members from all Christian churches.

The three-day event, which was also attended by Father Jim Loughran, SA, featured programs and seminars with opportunities to come together in prayer. Attendees explored the relationship between churches of the eastern and western worlds, how different Christian faiths worship and what worship looks like in late-pandemic times. Discussion centered around several issues, including racial justice, care for creation and the future of ecumenism.

The theme for this year’s workshop was “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship Him,” taken from Matthew 2:2. The same theme was used in January for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an eight-day period of solemnity started by Graymoor founders Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, SA, and Mother Lurana White, SA over 100 years ago.

“It was most gratifying that a number of the ecumenical officers that were present made it a point to come and congratulate the Centro Pro Unione for the conferences we hold and that they have access to from our website, where they are streamed and recorded for future viewing,” said Father Jim, the Director of Centro Pro Unione.

Cento Pro Unione is Rome’s ecumenical research and action center and a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. As spring blooms and COVID-19 restrictions ease in Italy, the center is gearing up for several events over the summer. 

The workshop was also just the start of a busy month for Father Jim, who also has a day of reflection and study on “Consecrated Life of the Synodal Church” planned. The day of reflection is for the Religious Community of the Servants of Charity, a religious order founded by St. Don Luigi Guanella in 1908. The Servants of Charity’s work involves helping the poor and those with handicaps.

Father Jim also plans to welcome and guide a group of 10 ambassadors, organized by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to the Holy See. Additionally, he will accompany a group of students from the Russell Berrie Fellowship Interreligious Studies Program to Jerusalem for a seminar at the Hartman Institute.

On May 19, Father Jim and Rabbi Jack Bemporad will host the lecture “Wisdom, Virtues and Vices in the Book of Proverbs: Some Philosophical and Ethical Considerations.”

On May 23, Father Jim is scheduled to participate in informal conversations between New Charismatic Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Then, from May 24-27, Centro Pro Unione is holding a meeting titled, “Gathering in the Holy Spirit.” This project began in 1999 and has brought together leaders of New Charismatic Churches and Catholic leaders. These meetings are held every two years in Rome, and have produced official conversations with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Father Jim is also preparing for Centro Pro Unione’s annual summer course, which will be taught from June 27 through July 15. Titled “Introduction to the Ecumenical and Interreligious Movements from a Roman Catholic Perspective,” the course is designed to introduce participants to the ecumenical and interreligious movements from a Catholic perspective. It will offer a historical and theological overview of the issues that divide Christians as well as the bonds that unite them.

On May 17, Father Jim presented the book “The Vatican and Permanent Neutrality.” Lastly this month, he spoke at the Meeting for Fraternal Dialogue. This meeting was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “washing of the feet” held in the stadium of San Nicola in Bari, Italy. The event marked the beginning of the movement of reconciliation between Catholics and Pentecostals in Italy. Father Jim’s talked centered on talk was on Pentecostalism and the Catholic Church: Perspectives of Dialogue.