NSW Ecumenical Council welcomes membership of three Catholic Dioceses and the Church of South India
On the afternoon of Sunday 16 May 2021, the NSW Ecumenical Council held an Extraordinary Meeting and a Worship Service to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (16-23 May) hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Parramatta at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
At the Extraordinary Meeting, the Council welcomed into membership three Roman Catholic Dioceses – the Diocese of Bathurst, the Diocese of Parramatta and the Diocese of Wagga Wagga – and the Church of South India. Representing the Dioceses present were Bishop Michael McKenna, Bishop of Bathurst, and Bishop Vincnet Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta. The Church of South India was represented by the Vicar, Rev Sujit David, and he was accompanied by many members of his Church. There was a beautiful aura of happiness and jubilance present at the meeting.
Several participants shared and prayed for Christian Unity during the worship service. The order of service commenced with acknowledgment of country, and the lighting of 16 candles to represent the member churches of the Council. After the President, Rev Dr Raymond Williamson OAM, acknowledged the new memberships to the Council, two other candles were lit – one for the Roman Catholic Dioceses and the other for the Church of South India – to mark a Council of 18 member churches.
The Order of Service was based on the one prepared for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 by the Sisters of the Community at Grandchamps in Switzerland. It consisted of readings and litanies, hymns and praise led by a cantor from the St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir, and a musical presentation by the Church of South India.
The order of service was marked with three Vigils: the first vigil – Abiding in Christ, the unity of the whole person; the second vigil, the visible unity of Christians; and finally, the unity of all peoples and all creations. The homily was preached by Right Rev Donald Kirk, Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Riverina, who gave an inspiring address on ecumenism and unity.
The welcoming of three Catholic Dioceses and the Church of South India is warming to the spirit of unity in the Body of Christ. The words of the Psalmist, resonates, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for kindred to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments” (Psalm 133:1-2).
The NSW Ecumenical Council expresses deep gratitude to Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv and to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, for hosting the Extraordinary Meeting and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Service. A memorable day for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021!
Watch the Ecumenical Prayer Service below:
Fr Shenouda Mansour is a Coptic Orthodox priest and the General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council.