The Introductory Ecumenical Leadership Institute, co-sponsored by the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers and the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was held from July 23rd to the 287th in Washington, DC. For over thirty-five years, this event has helped people in ministry become familiar with the ecumenical spirit and documents of the Church in relationship to other Christian communities.

This year, fifteen clerics and laypersons from across the country were able to attend. Thirteen seminars ranging in topics from “Pope Francis and the New Context” to “Spirituality of the Ecumenist” filled the four days.

Fr. James Gardiner, SA, hosted the participants of the Introductory Ecumenical Leadership Institute for vespers and dinner and then led an evening discussion on “Programming and Adapting to Locales” at the Franciscan Monastery, where he serves as Director of Special Projects.

Working off what ecumenists know as the Lund Principle — “never to do alone what can be done with others”,  Fr. Gardiner spoke about the importance of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which takes place January 18-25. It was the founder of the Atonement Friars, Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, who co-founded this event in 1908.

Fr. Gardiner focused on the ongoing activity with the Episcopal churches in Massey and Millington, MD, where both Fr. Paul and his Episcopal-priest father once served.

Fr. Gardiner’s work continues to inspire many to take part in other opportunities that lend themselves to ecumenical cooperation and celebration. During his session he also shared about the preliminary plans for the visit of Buddhist interns to the monastery. This is an exciting time for Fr. Gardiner to live out the mission of the Atonement Friars as he seeks to promote dialogue within the whole of Christianity and between all religions.