The recently concluded Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WOPCU) embraced the theme “Do Good, Seek Justice,” from Isaiah 1:17. As always, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement were passionate participants, hosting their own ecumenical prayer service with the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute on January 18. 

Pictured (L-R): Fr. James Gardiner, SA, Fr. Patrick D. Bergquist, pastor of Sacred Heart, and Dr. Mark Hillary Hanson, lay pastor of Saint Clement’s, Episcopal Church, where both Fr. Paul Wattson and his father served as pastor before the Society of the Atonement was founded 125 years ago.

Attendees to the prayer service included the Rev. Dr. David Latimore, Director of the Betsey Stockton Center for Black Church Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, and Father Jim Loughran, SA, Vicar General, First Councilor and Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

Sacred Heart Church in Chestertown, MD, and Saint Clement’s Church in Massey, MD, hosted a Week of Prayer service that began with a light supper that was followed by a talk by
Fr. James Gardiner, SA, and a prayer service in the church. About 75 people were in attendance. 

A few days later, on the second day of the WOPCU they celebrated a Mass for Christian Unity, where Fr. Dan Callahan, SA, gave the homily. 

Likewise, the Centro Pro Unione in Rome organized numerous events, including a visit by students wishing to learn more about the history of ecumenism. Several activities and prayer sessions with people from various religious backgrounds also took place. 

Fr. James Gardiner, SA greets His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, on Sunday afternoon, January 29th, when the patriarch visited the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, DC, where Fr. James serves as director of special projects.

Truly, the Week of Prayer extended worldwide: The Archdiocese of Douala in Cameroon, for example, organized events that brought together Christians from the area.

The Friars strive to bring the message of Christian Unity not only to others, but also to themselves. Father Jim Puglisi, SA, director of the Centro Pro Unione, said that “the prayer for unity is, for me personally, a way of learning how to overcome the obstacles that impede us from fulfilling that prayer of Jesus. So the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is not about ‘saying prayers’ but about listening to God in the Spirit who will lead us to ‘becoming prayer’ in action for the unity of all those who are members of the one Body of Christ.”
Click here to listen to his entire homily starting at 31:55.

The other friars reflected on their own experiences with the WOPCU, and they agreed: this is a crucial time to pray for the Church and the world. 

One thought on “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity a Success

  1. Wonderful Christian Unity Event here in Maryland, so happy so many celebrated with the Friars, Fr. Jim was great and the community was so supportive. Looking forward to a great event again next year. Dr. Mark Hansen, St. Clements, Massey, MD, was so instrumental and worked so hard to make this happen. Fr. Pat and Sacred Heart were so gracious and welcoming. Great Coverage, on all thank you Communications team!

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