Young people hold candles as they participate in an ecumenical Taize prayer service St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 29, 2013. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Prayer for unity embraced across Canada

  • January 18, 2015

The opportunity annually extended to Christians worldwide to be unified in prayer comes this year from Brazil, and it is being embraced in Canada from coast to coast.

The Brazilian team that came up with the theme, liturgies and Bible study guides for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity chose the story of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman by the well as a starting point (John 4:7). Jesus breaks the conventional taboos of His time, His people and His culture by talking with and accepting water from a Samaritan and a woman.

Just as He did with the Samaritan woman, Jesus still offers “living water” to all of us today.

“The Samaritan woman sees, hears and knows in the depth of her being that this ‘living water,’ this ‘eternal life,’ is what she wants, and so she asks for it,” reads the Week of Prayer background materials.

The prayers this year focus on rejecting fundamentalism and violence — both serious problems among Christians in Brazil.

“We have identified intolerance as an issue of concern. As we look beyond Brazil to the rest of the world, we also observe intolerance,” write the Brazilian authors of this year’s prayers. “As Christians, it is vital that we all reflect upon how we should respond to such attitudes and the injustice that flows from them.”

In Canada, Edmonton gets an early start on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a display at Edmonton City Hall which explains the annual event and this year’s Brazilian themes. Edmonton’s city-wide prayer service will be held Jan. 18 at Braemar Baptist Church.

The Archdiocese of Vancouver makes a special effort with a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism on Jan. 17, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Salt + Light Television CEO Fr. Tom Rosica and Canadian ecumenical pioneer Sr. Donna Geernaert will be featured speakers.

An ecumenical Taizé prayer service will be held at Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Jan. 25.

In Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins will join with a long list of bishops, moderators, archpriests, priests and deacons from Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches Jan. 25 at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.

Montreal’s churches will gather at the Santa Cruz Portuguese Mission in the old city Jan. 18.

St. Ninian’s Cathedral in Antigonish will host an ecumenical service Jan. 21.

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