Ecumenical reps meet for workshop by Joanne Shurvin-Martin
REGINA More than two dozen representatives from Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes across southern Saskatchewan met on November 19 for a workshop. They shared stories of ecumenical action in their local areas and learned about Anglican and Roman Catholic dialogues at national and international levels.
Fr. Rick Krofchek, a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant Implementation Committee (ARCCIC) opened the gathering with prayer in the hall attached to St. Paul's Cathedral. Archbishop Don Bolen then recounted how the covenant between the Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle and the Archdiocese of Regina had come to be. It built on relationships which had developed since the 1960s, and was signed in January 2011. Bolen has been involved in ecumenical relations at the highest level, serving on the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican from 2001 to 2008. Bolen said, "We were created for community, with God and with one another." He said the ecumenical work in Saskatchewan is "a good example for the rest of the country, although we still have more to do."
Susan Klein, co-chair of ARCCIC, said that at the beginning, they were encouraged to start small, "you can't do everything at once." But, she said, she has been surprised by how much has been done already, with many parishes working together in a variety of ways.
Recent actions in the town of Qu'Appelle were presented as a case study. Chad Geis, of Immaculate Conception parish, and Eileen Herman and Bruce Farrer of the Anglican churches in Qu'Appelle and Vernon, described how the Roman Catholic parish has come to worship in the Anglican building of St. Peter, Qu'Appelle. When faced with prohibitively costly repairs to their building, the congregation of Immaculate Conception had several options - travel to Indian Head to worship, hold services in the local seniors' centre, or use the Anglican building. "I'm glad we chose St. Peter's," said Geis, "This has worked out very well. St. Peter's has been extraordinarily welcoming to us."
Herman and Farrer described what their congregation had to do - mainly adjusting their service schedule to fit in the Roman Catholic services. Minor alterations to the lectern (to fit a larger book) and hymn board were also made. The changing service schedule has meant some people have come to church at the wrong time, but often stay for whatever service is going on, and have learned there are many similarities in the two denominations.
Elsewhere, there are many examples of the denominations working together, sometimes with additional churches in their communities. Many parishes have held joint events including programs and special services during Advent and Lent; delegations attending each other's services; vacation bible schools; and prayer services, especially during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Individual examples included a joint marriage preparation course, potluck dinners, a joint youth group and sharing events for First Nations peoples.
On the diocesan level, there have been annual joint prayer services, with the 2018 service planned for May 13 with Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon as the preacher at St. Paul's Cathedral, Regina. Joint workshops for intercessors and lectors have been well attended. Deacons from both traditions have attended gatherings and programs. Anglican delegations attended the funeral of Archbishop Dan Bohan and the installation of Archbishop Donald Bolen. The episcopal ordination of Anglican Bishop Rob Hardwick was held at Holy Trinity RC Church, with Archbishop Bohan and other clergy attending. ARCCIC sponsored a workshop on Indigenous ministry with Rev. Dale Gillman and Sister ReAnne Létourneau. St. Mary’s Anglican in Regina, with the help of Holy Family parish, organized a study evening on the place of Mary in the two traditions. Keynote speaker was Brett Salkeld, Archdiocesan theologian, who based his talk on the 2005 international ARCIC agreed statement, “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ.”
Nick Jesson, Archdiocesan Ecumenical Officer and a member of ARCCIC, placed the local covenant in the international and national context. He pointed out that when it comes to agreement on theological issues, Anglicans and Roman Catholics "are a lot farther along than some other denominations - for example, we don't have to discuss baptism or the Creed, because we are already in agreement." Jesson described the first agreed statement, on the Eucharist, which was issued in 1971. This was followed by statements on ordination and ministry, authority in the church, and most recently the statement on Mary mentioned above. Jesson provided handouts with excerpts from agreed statements, and a history of the many documents prepared by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and IARCCUM which is a joint commission of the Anglican Communion and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Archbishop Bolen is international co-chair of IARCCUM.
Before lunch, Canon Michael Jackson, ARCCIC co-chair, led a tour of the Anglican cathedral, which was followed by mid-day prayers.
ARCCIC has been encouraging all Anglican and Roman Catholic matching parishes to appoint lay ecumenical representatives, to help advance the work of the covenant at the local level. As of November 2017, 16 Anglican and 17 Roman Catholic parishes have made such appointments. This workshop for parish representatives was the first gathering of its kind, but it is expected to become an annual event.
photos - Joanne Shurvin-Martin Participants listen intently during the ecumenical workshop held at St. Paul's Cathedral Regina. Archbishop Don Bolen was the first main speaker at the workshop for ecumenical parish representatives. He told the 31 attendees, "We were created for communion, with God and with one another." ARCCIC co-chairs Susan Klein and Canon Michael Jackson described many joint activities at a workshop for representatives of Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes in southern Saskatchewan.