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Ecumenical event to mark Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


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BRAINTREE -- Greater Boston faith leaders will come together for a special gathering later this month to mark the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

This collaborative event will be held on Jan. 21 at Holy Name Church in West Roxbury and will bring together hundreds of Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical and Protestant Christians. Marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the program celebrates the progress towards Christian unity and fosters dialogue around Christian approaches to the issues of our day including race, diversity, interchurch families and the global persecution of Christians.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley said, "Pope Francis has challenged the Catholic community to build bridges with our ecumenical colleagues by seeking unity in the name of the Lord. Joined by our faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to work together to build a civilization of love. It is my prayer that this gathering will strengthen our shared mission of bringing Jesus' love and peace to the people we serve."

The event will begin with noontime lunch followed by workshops on Christian unity's relation to evangelization, interchurch families, global persecution of Christians, racial reconciliation, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Scripture in the Christian Life, and Pope Francis.

Cardinal O'Malley and other local faith leaders will preside at a worship and blessing service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at 2 p.m. The event will conclude with a mission and volunteer reception where participants can engage with various organizations in their ministries.

"For the first time in this region's history, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will reflect the face of the new global Christianity," explained Dr. Vito Nicastro, associate director of the archdiocese's Office of Ecumenical Affairs. "This event will join Asian, Pentecostal, Black, and Oriental Orthodox churches alongside the Evangelical and Mainline Protestants, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, in countless variations, and on a new scale. Together, we will provide the tinder for God to spark a new local prayer movement drawing us closer to Christ and to each other."

Bishop Arthur Kennedy, director of the archdiocese's Office of Ecumenical Affairs commented, "The unity of the Church has its basis in the unity of the Holy Trinity. That unity is both given and revealed to us through Jesus Christ who grants us a share in this bond through His establishment of the Church. It is that Church for which He prays in the Gospel of John 17:21: 'I pray that they may all be me, as you Father are in me and I in you... that the world may believe that you sent me.'"

Kelly Steinhaus, executive director of UniteBoston, the organization that created the local, week-long programming said, "We build relational connections through our events to show a more unified testimony to the strength of God's love for every person. As Christians identifying with many different denominations, we can better serve our city together with dialogue around our common beliefs and values."

The event is free and open to the public. Lunch is $8 and free for those under the age of 35. Holy Name Church is located at 1689 Centre Street in the West Roxbury neighborhood of the City of Boston. Parking is available and the church may be accessed via the MBTA. Take the 38 Bus from the Orange Line Forest Hills Station to Wren Street via Centre Street.

More information on the event is available at www.uniteboston.com/wpcu/.

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