Sister Rosa Le Thi Bong, a Vietnamese member of Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, says goodbye to people in Riimenze, a small war-ravaged village in South Sudan where she spent more than a decade as a member of Solidarity with South Sudan, a pastoral and teaching presence of Catholic clergy, religious and laity from around the world.

Photo: Paul Jeffrey/Life on Earth pictures

The reflections explore how we find our common identity in the experience of Gods love. The specific context of Burkina Faso reflects the need to place love at the centre of the quest for peace and reconciliation.

The introduction to the materials notes that this quest has often been undermined by the loss of values and of a shared sense of humanity and by a diminished concern for the common good, probity, integrity, and patriotism. The search for reconciliation has also been weakened by spiritual impoverishment and by the pursuit of easy gains,” reads the introduction. Faced with these realities, the imperative to witness to the love of God is all the more pressing.”

Christians from Burkina Faso developed the local draft for the resources. As is the tradition, it was finalized by an international group representing the  Roman Catholic Churchs Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the WCCs Faith and Order Commission. The resources include an ecumenical opening prayer service, biblical reflections and prayers for eight days, and other elements of worship.

The introduction also notes that Christian communities in Burkina Faso try to live the call to love through mutual hospitality.

We have been invited to live the divine call to love God and our neighbour as ourselves,” reads one prayer of intercession. As we renew our commitment to this call, may this love strengthen our unity as Christians.”

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.

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 and the WCC.

The materials for 2024 are already available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.