Bp Bambera to chair USCCB ecumenism committee

December 1, 2016

bamberaOur bishop has been elected to chair the U.S. Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, though his role as Chair won’t officially begin for almost a year.  Read more about his responsibilities on the USCCB and his recent election HERE.

Remembering Jesus’ prayer

May they all be one.  As you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, and thus the world may know that you have sent me and that you have loved them even as you have loved me.  (John 17:21-23)

and also remembering that Pope Francis said

In these months, meeting so many non-Catholic Christians, or reading their letters, I have been able  to see how, despite the open questions that still separate us, there is a strong and widespread desire to walk together…the pursuit of full Christian unity remains a priority for the Catholic Church, and thus    it is daily one of my chief concerns. (20-Nov-2014)

Let’s continue to keep Bishop Bambera in our prayers, especially as he prepares for this new role.
Congratulations, Bishop Bambera !!


2017 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

August 14, 2016

Click here for the resources from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for the celebration of this event in 2017 (January 18-25).


2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

December 11, 2013


In a little more than five weeks the 2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will begin.  This year’s prayer resources were developed by Canadians, as explained in this article and in this short video:

The theme for the 2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Has Christ Been Divided?”  This is from 1 Corinthians 1:13.  A detailed presentation of the background and resources for prayer services has been published here by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

An evening on ecumenism

September 19, 2013

frphill1Last evening, our Community was privileged to have a visit from Fr Phil Altavilla, who serves as the Diocesan Director of Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs for our diocese.  The evening began with a covered-dish supper, followed by a two-hour highly interactive presentation by Fr Phil on various aspects of ecumenism.  He was very patient and responsive to all of our questions and comments, and distributed multiple handouts which related to the topic.  Here’s a summary of what we discussed:

Fr Phil noted that the overall goal of ecumenism is the full, visible unity of the Body of Christ.  However, we do not yet know what form the unified Body of Christ will take, what it will look like.  Ecumenism should be an integral part of our faith life, not simply an appendix.

In the meantime, the basis for our ecumenical efforts is provided in the Decree on Ecumenism produced by Vatican II in 1964.  At Fr Phil’s request, our Community had studied this document as a prerequisite to his visit.  A companion document, the Directory of Ecumenism (1993), serves as a manual of sorts, and offers some guidelines for ecumenical activities.  Two documents by Bd Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint and Orientale Lumen, were written to help implement the teaching of Vatican II on ecumenism.  In Ut Unum Sint, among other things, John Paul II emphasizes the fact that the papacy should not be an obstacle to Christian unity.  In Orientale Lumen, he encourages us to have a deeper appreciation for our Eastern brethren, and to draw close to them so that the Church can again breathe with both lungs.  The fact that Patriarch Bartholomew attended the installation Mass of Pope Francis may be a hopeful sign of our progress in this direction.

Unfortunately, too many Catholics have the misguided notion that our ecumenical efforts should be aimed at simply getting everyone else to convert to Roman Catholicism.  They think that “ecumenism” should be pronounced “you-come-in-ism”!  But all ecumenical dialogue should be done in charity as we strive to better understand each other.  We should all be seeking the truth, and should all be open to change if it is needed in order to get to the truth.  Conversion is an ongoing theme in all of the documents and discussion on ecumenism.

Fr Phil pointed out that, while we often take the structure of our Church for granted, many non-Catholic Christians admire the order which results from the structure of the Roman Catholic Church.  He explained the difference between theological communion (based on our recognition of Jesus as Savior and our Baptism) and juridical communion (which also includes recognition of the authority of the papacy), and pointed out how Canon 844 makes allowances for some non-Catholic Christians to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass.

Finally, he noted that the heart of ecumenism is the building of relationships.  He provided us with excerpts from a 1991 World Council of Churches document (Canberra) which gives important insights into the “fellowship” aspect of ecumenism.  He also recommended four books:

We are extremely grateful for the time and effort that Fr Phil put into his preparation and his visit with us.  Hopefully, the Holy Spirit will lead our Community into those ecumenical endeavors in which our Lord would most like to use us.

Inspiring video

July 2, 2013

This month’s feature video at the ‘Net for God TV’ site, entitled “The humble beginnings of the Chemin Neuf Community,” is an inspiring 30-minute history of an ecumenical charismatic community.  The community started in France 40 years ago, and is now in 28 countries.  The song at the end will have you dancing in front of your computer!

Preparing for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 15, 2012

In a few days, the Church will begin celebrating the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25.  Those of Polish descent may be interested to read how the history of Poland influenced the choice of this year’s theme and materials for prayer and reflection, which have been compiled by a committee of Poles.  The suggested prayer service for this year even includes a well-known Polish custom at the Sign of Peace:

The focus for the prayers of intercession are unity and transformation of different situations. These prayers are followed by the “sign of peace”….Poland has a particular custom of sharing a special wafer, the “opłatek” (plural: “opłatki”), in people’s homes before the Christmas Eve meal, and also over Christmas in meetings in churches, and even at work. This custom is so precious to Poles, living at home and abroad, that it is practiced not only by people of different confessions, but also by non-believers. Each person is given a wafer. People then share this wafer by breaking off a piece of another person’s wafer and eating it. In doing so they convey their best wishes to each other. This sharing of the wafer expresses unity, love, and forgiveness between people to whom the Saviour came. Although it is not the Eucharist, nevertheless resembles it and symbolizes the presence of Him who was born in a House of Bread (Bethlehem) and who himself became the bread of life – Jesus Christ.

Even if we can’t attend a daily ecumenical prayer service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, perhaps incorporating the proposed Scripture readings, Commentary, and Questions for Reflection into our personal or family prayer time would enable us to participate ‘in spirit’ in this valuable exercise.