Ecumenical Service for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Written by Fr Macario Lopez, January 2023

On the evening of this past Wednesday, January 25, the feast of the conversion of the Apostle Saint Paul, an ecumenical celebration was held in the parish of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia, in Puerto de la Cruz, presided over by Bishop Nivariense .

As every year, from January 18 to 25, an octave of prayer for unity is celebrated in all the Christian churches in the northern hemisphere. After the interruptions due to the pandemic, this celebration was resumed in our diocese, which previously took place in the church of San Francisco, also in Puerto de la Cruz, but due to the restoration works that are being undertaken in this temple , it was decided to transfer the act to the neighboring parish of Peña de Francia.

Around sixty-five faithful from the various Christian denominations and eight of their ministers participated in the celebration. In addition to the Bishop, the parish priest of La Peña parish, Father Luis Rodríguez; the diocesan delegate for Ecumenism, Macario López; the Rector of the German Catholic Church of Saint Elmo, Patrick Lindner and Pastors Ronnie Stromgren (Scandinavian Church), Simo Juntunen (Finnish Lutheran Church), Gerard Jacobs (German Lutheran Church) and John Poole (Anglican Church).

The celebration, prepared by an ecumenical commission in Minnesota (USA), was the same for the entire hemisphere and this year had as its motto the verse from Isaiah "Do good, seek justice" (Is 1,17)

The liturgy took place in three parts, mainly in English and Spanish, although German and Finnish were also used at times. The songs of the celebration, in English, were sung by the assembly.

The first part consisted of a welcome and pleas to God for forgiveness, for all the times that Christians have been complicit in the injustices of our world..

In the second part, various texts from the Bible were read. Subsequently, the bishop gave the homily. In response to this Word of God, three experiences of joint work of the Christian churches were shared, in favour of the poorest:

1º) The Scandinavian pastor narrated his experience in Cochabamba (Bolivia), in collaboration with the Catholic Church, in favor of some peasants and their children, who after a long drought, lacked food and access to education because they had to emigrate to this city, from the fields.

2º) The Anglican pastor and the secretary of the Anglican church of the south of Tenerife, shared the solidarity experience with the Catholic Church, of collecting some backpacks, which the members of both communities had filled with hygiene and shelter products, for people without roof of the area of ​​Los Cristianos and Las Américas.

3º) The German Lutheran pastor related his experience of collaboration, with the Catholic Church, for aid from Germany to Africa, specifically a mission in Ghana.

The third and last part of the ecumenical celebration consisted of the petitions, the singing of the Our Father in Latin and the final blessing by the bishop.