|2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Celebrated across the Midwest|
|Escrito por Midwest Focolare|
|Jueves 26 de Enero de 2012|
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Chicago Focolare community, guests and friends celebrate an evening of Prayer for Christian Unity
Braving bitter cold and the heaviest snowfall of the season, 130 members and friends of the Focolare came together in warm, deep communion for an evening of prayer for Christian unity. The event was held at the KAM Isaiah Temple, Hyde Park, Chicago, in a meeting room where the Torah scrolls are kept.
As Paul O'Hara, the evening's facilitator pointed out, the very setting was a clear sign of the Judeo-Christian roots that everyone present shared. Those who attended differed in age, race, nationality, and church membership, but their desire to share an evening of prayer and reflection demonstrated what unity in a city like Chicago would look like when, as the theme stated, "We will all be changed by the victory of Our Lord."
Sr. Joan McGuire, O.P., Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of Chicago conveyed Cardinal George's warm greetings, as well as her own appreciation for the work of the Focolare Movement in promoting unity throughout the archdiocese and the world.
The program was also greatly honored and blessed by the presence and participation of highly regarded leaders of various Christian communities including His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago; Bishop C. Christopher Epting of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago; Pastor Joan Beck of the Lutheran School of Theology; and Rev. Cynthia Hallas, Rector of St. Giles Episcopal Church.
Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana was the principal speaker. His experience as a Baptist pastor in Chicago and as an official at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, made him realize that unity must be "wider," to include not only Christian brothers and sisters, but all people of faith. He noted that the work of Christian Unity cannot take place in isolation, but in the world, and that such work requires deep humility and spirituality. He said, "The key is a spirituality rooted in love, a quality that the Focolare community demonstrates ... through the sharing of resources and money. This is something that all of us who speak of unity and ecumenism must learn and reflect on deeply. ...This is the hardest task. For unless a grain of wheat to fall into the ground and dies, it will bear no fruit!"
Jakeline Torizani, a Focolare member, shared a witness of what happened when she met other teenagers who were living the gospel. As a young person, she had plunged herself in seeking escape from the harsh reality of being from a broken family. When she saw how those who based their life on Jesus' commandment were living, she realized how suffering can be transformed into love. Her whole life changed.
The music prepared and performed by Focolare members, young and old alike, reinforced the evening's prayerful, loving atmosphere.
The first page of the program included a memorial to Msgr. Donald Fitzpatrick, a well-loved Focolare member who all his life had worked quietly and prayerfully for Christian unity. He died suddenly on January 18, just three days before this event. In previous years, he had contributed to the evening of prayer for Christian unity, and everyone who knew him felt his presence.
Those who attended left with reinforced commitment to seek the unity of all Christians and all faiths by living the gospel in their families, faith communities, workplaces, neighborhoods, and society at large.
Gatherings in Columbus, Ohio and Beyond
In Columbus, the Prayer for Christian Unity was held in St. Peter Church. Notwithstanding the ice and snow, it turned out to be a joyful event with almost seventy participants. There were three Catholic priests, including Fr. Tim Hayes, of St. Timothy Catholic Church, as well as pastors from three other Christian churches--the guest speaker, Rev. Jeff van Orden, of the Redeemer Moravian Church; Rev. Les Stansbery, of the Eastminster Presbyterian Church; and Rev. Rich Hagopian, of the Smoky Row Brethren Church.
The program reflected the collaboration over the past months among different groups from the parish of St. Peter and the Focolare Movement. The participation of persons from many other faith communities, including the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the Methodist Church, the Religious Society of Friends, and the Presbyterian Church gave testimony to the desire for unity present and working in the Columbus area. The active participation of children and young people added a special touch to the evening.
Other Prayer for Christian Unity Events were prepared by the Focolare communities in Fremont,OH, Appleton,WI and St. Louis, MO.