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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Fr Wim Hoekstra (right) with Noella Sheerin, Bernard Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth Sheppard
Fr Wim Hoekstra (right) with Noella Sheerin, Bernard Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth Sheppard.
By Elizabeth Sheppard OblSB
Catholic Outlook, June 2010

St Patrick’s Cathedral hosted a Prayer Service on 17 May to mark the 2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity as part of the centenary celebrations of the week in which representatives of different Churches meet and pray together as a first step towards greater understanding and co-operation between Christian denominations.

The Dean, Fr Wim Hoekstra, and Director of Music Bernard Kirkpatrick were assisted by the Chair of the diocesan Commission for Ecumenism & Interfaith Dialogue, Lorraine Murphy, Noella Sheerin OblSB, cantor Elizabeth Sheppard OblSB and Claire Lanigan. Noella Sheerin OblSB planned and coordinated the liturgy.

The Rev Dr Jonathan Inkpin from the Anglican Church and Major Daphne Cox from the Salvation Army also attended the service, and joined Lorraine Murphy in assisting as readers and prayer leaders.

It was a particular joy to hear the Gospel, Luke Ch 24, the journey to Emmaus, read jointly by Fr Wim and Rev Inkpin. Fr Wim gave the sermon, reading a reflection on Church unity by Daniel Ang.

This liturgy marked the centenary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which started in Edinburgh in 1910. In a week when we have been blessed by the news that 200,000 Anglicans are seeking acceptance into the Catholic Church, it was particularly meaningful to gather with other Churches to pray in Christ’s name.

As Catholics we are faithful to our own Church and we respect the differences between the Churches, and the Holy See has also established a Congregation to work towards Church Unity.

Jesus’ great prayer “sanctify them in the truth; your Word is truth … that they may all be one” in John Ch 17 is the basis for this ecumenical movement.

Communication and discussion between Christians of different traditions, in a prayerful atmosphere, is encouraged as a Christian obligation.

We are all (as the Scriptures read at the liturgy made plain) valued and precious disciples travelling on the road to Emmaus, where we will recognise Jesus as the Lord of the undivided Church, face to face over the table of the Word.

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