The newly available materials for next year‘s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity draw on the experience of contemplative community life to guide us on a journey of prayer bearing fruits of reconciliation and solidarity. Tasked with preparing a draft for the 2021 edition, the Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland chose the theme “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (cf. Jn 15:5-9).
The whole community, some 50 sisters from different churches and countries, worked over the course of several months on the draft.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an international Christian ecumenical observance kept annually around Pentecost in the Southern Hemisphere and between 18-25 January in the Northern Hemisphere.
Each year ecumenical partners in a different region are asked to prepare the materials, including chiefly an ecumenical opening prayer service and biblical reflections and prayers for the eight-days of the octave, employed by churches around the world.
From its inception in the 1930s, the Community of Grandchamp was painfully aware of the divisions between churches. In their efforts to draw closer to each other by drawing closer to God, the sisters were encouraged by their friendship with Abbé Paul Couturier, a pioneer of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
“For decades, the sisters of Grandchamp have accompanied the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement with their silent presence and daily prayers,” says Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, interim deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and director of its Faith and Order Commission. “I will never forget the Vespers they led at the chapel of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute when I was a student. We have now taken a step forward and asked them to lead us in prayer for unity as we advance preparations for the 2022 WCC assembly.”
With roots going back over 100 years, the dedicated octave of prayers has been jointly commissioned and prepared since 1966, after the Second Vatican Council, by the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission.
The materials for 2021 are already available in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Praying for unity with the Sisters of Grandchamp in 2021 (feature article by Odair Pedroso Mateus)
- Fr Manuel Barrios, Spain/Belgium/Croatia: “Week of Prayer made me feel deeply the Lord’s desire for our complete unity”
- Rev. Inácio Lemke, Brazil: “Kindness generates kindness”
- Rev. Eva Guldanova, Slovakia: “The unity was growing in front of my eyes”