Photo (L-R):  Pastor Dave Sonnenberg, senior pastor; Pastor Kate Costa, associate pastor; Fr. Jim Gardiner, SA; and Mr. Sam Wagner, parishioner.

During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan 18-25, a series of ecumenical prayer services was held on the Holy Mountain here at Graymoor as well as in other locations around the country, such as Boston and Washington, D.C. The purpose of these ecumenical prayer services was to celebrate and learn more about the desire for unity among Christian faiths. A number of Friars presented, as well as leaders from other Christian churches.

In New York, gatherings occurred daily during the Week of Prayer.  All the speakers were asked to consider the theme of how the Bible triumphs over the sins of slavery – a theme developed for the year 2018 by the Christian Churches in the Caribbean Area.  The first evening took place at the Saint Francis Convent, The Rev. Melissa Hinnen was the speaker. The next morning was at Graymoor, with Fr. Emil Tomaskovic, SA, speaking. Other days were hosted at various locations on the Holy Mountain, with speakers from a variety of denominations, including Fr. Dennis Polanco, SA, Rev. Dr. William Rusch (Professor of Lutheran Studies, Yale Divinity School), Rev. Gary Colter (Pastor, Mount Lebanon Baptist Church), The Rev. Frank Geer (St. Phillip Episcopal Church in the Highlands), and The Rev. Jeffrey Geary (Pastor, White Plains Presbyterian Church).

week of prayer

Chapel of Our Savior, Brockton, MA

In Boston, The Most Rev. Robert P. Reed presided and preached at a service to promote Christian Unity at the Chapel of Our Savior in Brockton, MA. Bishop Reed is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston and the President of the television network CatholicTV.  Bishop Reed was joined by the Rt. Rev. James Hiles, Bishop and Pastor of the Anglican Church of St. Paul, Brockton, MA; the Rev. Patrician Hayes, Pastor of Christ Congregational Church, Brockton, MA; the Rev. Sharon Hughes, Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, North Easton, MA; the Rev. Gregory Davidson, Lutheran Chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital, Brockton, MA; the Rev. Joseph Raeke, Pastor of three Catholic parishes in Brockton, MA; Fr. Damian MacPherson, SA and Fr. John Keane, SA, Chapel of Our Savior, Brockton, MA.

Fr. Jim Gardiner, SA, in Washington D.C., reported that “Despite frigid temperatures and a declining — but seemingly not worsening — interest in Christian unity, a hardy band numbering forty to fifty — turned out last evening for evening prayer at the Franciscan Monastery to inaugurate the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera, chair of the USCCB committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs was the presider; Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches was the speaker; and Mark H. Hansen, lay pastor of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, Massey , MD (Fr. Paul Wattson’s home parish, read the scripture lesson. Atonement Sisters and Associates, a pair of seminarians from VTS, the executive director of the Washington Theological Consortium, the USCCB’s executive director for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, and Orange, CA, Bishop Kevin Vann, ecclesiastical delegate for the pastoral program for former Anglicans, were among those in attendance. CNS covered the event, so watch for the report in your diocesan paper.”

Fr. Jim Gardiner delivered the sermon (Sunday, January 21st) at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gaithersburg, MD.