Canadian prayers for unity

 — July 28, 201328 juil. 2013
By Michael Swan,

The world will pray with Canada this January, and in a special way with native Canadians. For the second time in the 106-year history of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Canadians have written the biblical reflections, prayer services and educational materials to be used worldwide.

Celebrated Jan. 18-25, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is prepared each year in a different country under the direction of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome and the Geneva-based World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission. Since the two major ecumenical organizations took over the annual event in 1968, Canada is just the second country to be asked twice to prepare the worship and study material.

Coming back to Canada, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity wanted to make sure the material is fresh and reflects a different perspective. In 1989 Canada’s offering was prepared by the Canadian Council of Churches. This time, preparations were led by the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism in Montreal and the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism in Saskatoon.

Having Canada’s independent ecumenical centres take over was the initiative of Saskatoon Bishop Don Bolen, who for years worked on the Week of Prayer as an official for the Pontifical Council in Rome. Though the CCC did not lead the 2014 effort, general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton played an important role helping to review the material, said Nicholas Jesson, ecumenical officer for the diocese of Saskatoon and part of the 2014 writing committee.

The CCC also has a key role distributing the material, which can be ordered or downloaded from

The Canadian material is based on a close reading of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 1:1-17, posing the question “Has Christ been divided?” However, L’Osservatore Romano, a semi-official voice of the Vatican, chose to concentrate on elements of native spirituality incorporated into the proposed worship service in a July 19 report on the 2014 resources.

“The text of the prayer was prepared in Canada with a significant choice,” said the newspaper. “To give way to the voice and culture of native (Canadians), the First Nations.”

For the Canadian committee, including native contributions to Canadian history and native elements in the worship service was not a statement but rather something natural to any material that was going to originate in Canada, said Jesson.

“Everybody agreed, right away, that yes, there had to be something distinctive and that was aboriginal,” Jesson told The Catholic Register. “One thing we all agreed on was that the relationship between aboriginal people and the Canadian churches was a common element of the Canadian religious experience.”

The modest nod to native spirituality in the suggested worship service for the Week of Prayer involves the congregation praying in four directions in the name of the powers and gifts associated in native spirituality with the north, east, south and west.

In a five-page essay on “The ecumenical context in Canada,” the writing group touches on Canada’s history of missionary outreach to native people, mistakes of the colonial period and the residential schools.

Posted: July 28, 2013 • Permanent link:
Categories: Catholic RegisterIn this article: Canada, Centre Canadien d’œcuménisme, Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, WPCU
Transmis : 28 juil. 2013 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : Catholic RegisterDans cet article : Canada, Centre Canadien d’œcuménisme, Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, WPCU

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