Christian unity week goes live again in 2022

By 
  • November 10, 2021

The virtual has become normal and for lots of things it’s not bad. Virtual ecumenism, however, just isn’t a thing.

“I’m sorry. The ecumenical work of promoting Christian unity is face-to-face,” said Archdiocese of Toronto officer for Christian Unity and Jewish Dialogue Rev. Dr. Luis Melo. “It’s about relationships. It’s about receiving one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

While Melo understands that virtual meetings are probably never going away, he is certain that Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox and Anglican parishes won’t start gathering for prayer or sitting down to dinner together again until it is safe and normal to do so.

“The priority with many of our parishes and congregations and churches, ecclesial communities, is going to be on re-gathering our own communities,” Melo said. “Because they’ve been dispersed, necessarily dispersed, and are slowly coming back.”

Melo sees things looking up for the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christianity, Jan. 18-25.

The annual liturgy bringing together Church leaders to pray for each other has been scheduled for Jan. 23 at Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Scarborough. Unlike last year’s all-virtual, sparsely attended service, this year will feature both live and online prayer.

The Greater Toronto Area Council of Churches is the co-ordinating body for the service. This year the Week of Prayer will feature a strong strain of Eastern Christian spirituality, given its origins.

The prayers, theme and key Gospel passage for the week were prepared this year by the Middle East Council of Churches, drawing attention to the ancient roots of Christian faith in the land where Jesus lived.

The churches have chosen the story of the Magi, Matthew 2:1-12 as the key to prayers, reflection and liturgy for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“The Magi reveal to us the unity of all nations desired by God,” the Middle Eastern Council of Churches writes in its introduction to this year’s Week of Prayer. “They travel from far-off countries, and represent diverse cultures, yet they are driven by the same hunger to see and know the newborn king, and are gathered into the little house in Bethlehem in the simple act of giving homage and offering gifts.”

A kit with Bible study materials, liturgy and homily suggestions, hymns and children’s activities is available for free at www.weekofprayer.ca/2022-wpcu-resources.

The Catholic Register and Melo will also be reaching out to Catholic school boards in the archdiocese to invite students to participate in the annual Friars’ Student Writing Awards, sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement.

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