Reverend Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith issued a question to the congregation: “How do we bring prayer to life in this moment?”

Reverend Angelique, a Baptist minister and Senior Associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World, spoke about a Catholic friend and mentor, who at one point in her life showed her she could be a great performer of liturgical dance, an area completely alien to her. Reverend Angelique invited us to do what her friend did: to create an invitation for those different than you, find places of frailty and struggle, and keep company with those who are different than yourself.

It was among the highlights of the Ecumenical Prayer Service held Monday, which kicked off the 2022 Atonement Franciscan Assembly at Graymoor.

The service was held at Our Lady of the Atonement Chapel, the site of the weeklong assembly. Its celebrants also included Father Walter Kedjierski, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Nathan Smith, Director of Catholic-Evangelical Relations at Glenmary Home Missioners; Sister Denise Robillard, SA, Councilor of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement; Father Jim Loughran, SA, Vicar General and Director of Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (GEII); and Aaron Hollander, Ph.D., Associate Director of GEII.

The Gospel reading during the service came from John, chapter 17, verses 18 to 24, in which Christ prays for the unity of all Christians on the night before He died: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”

“This scripture, as you know, is a prayer,” Reverend Angelique said. “And for me, that’s what is really important about this scripture, is that it’s a prayer. And therefore, if it’s a prayer, it’s all about how God is blessing our lives and showing us a new way to live out the faithful life.”

Her final message was to live out Christ’s prayer profoundly in the existential world, so that others may believe.

The service began with a singing of the Canticle of the Creatures, a prayer written by St. Francis of Assisi. Prayers were offered up for Christian unity, as Father Paul Wattson, SA, prayed on the Holy Mountain of Graymoor, “That all may be one.”

The service was the start of many planned events and discussions. For more information about the 2022 Atonement Franciscan Assembly, click here and here.