On January 25, 2020, Pope Francis ended the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an initiative rooted in the efforts of Servant of God Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, with an ecumenical prayer service in Rome. The Holy Father’s prayer service for unity emphasized the importance of this week that the Friars promote each year. 

Highlighting this year’s Week of Prayer theme “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness”, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of caring for one another, especially those who are vulnerable such as migrants. 

In his homily, the Pope talked about the origins of this year’s theme – when St. Paul was shipwrecked in Malta and the people there showed him and his companions “unusual kindness”. During the shipwreck, St. Paul said, “While everyone was losing all hope of survival, the Apostle brought an unexpected message of hope.” Once in Malta, those on the island showed them incredible hospitality. 

He invited us to consider how much every Christian, like the Maltese, has to offer, “it tells us that those who are weak and vulnerable, those who have little to offer materially but find their wealth in God, can present valuable messages for the good of all.”

Echoing the call for ecumenism and At-One-Ment central to the charism of the Friars, Pope Francis said, “Among Christians as well, each community has a gift to offer to the others. The more we look beyond partisan interests and overcome the legacies of the past in the desire to move forward towards a common landing place, the more readily we will recognize, welcome and share these gifts.”

Many men and women from a variety of denominations were present for this service with the Pope. The Pope had a word for them, and for all of us seeking unity: “Together, without ever tiring, let us continue to pray and to beg from God the gift of full unity among ourselves.”