Topic will carry a formal story on this event, but I’d like to add my personal observations.
First of all, our diocesan Ecumenical and Multi-faith Unit is doing a lot of work behind the scenes. The members are to be commended to their dedication to broadening our conversation with our Christian cousins and with our neighbours of other faiths.
Gladly, there was, however, a strong representation from both the Anglican and Roman Catholic communities. This mixture made for very lively and engaging table conversation held in the context of the dialogue between Rev. Dr. Richard Leggett and Dr. Christophe Potworowski. The personal dimension that Leggett and Potworowski brought to their conversation reflected a genuine developing friendship between the two. They are taking steps on both academic and relational levels to ‘lower the walls’, so to speak. They were a wonderful example of the challenge that Rev. Grant Rodgers placed before us at the end of the gathering:
“As a result of today,” Rodgers said, “what one step can you take so that we may grow together in unity in mission?” Richard and Christophe have taken one vital step: they have entered into productive and appreciative dialogue with one another. This example will motivate others to go forth and do likewise.
And ‘growing together in mission’ is what the participants in the table discussions seem to want to do most. Many want to move beyond talking to finding ways that we can, as Anglicans and Roman Catholics together, engage in mission and witness together to our community. Yes, recognize and appreciate our differences; yes, let our common life centred in Jesus Christ propel us beyond those differences into being more genuinely Christ-like; no, let’s no produce report after report about what we should be doing.
The afternoon began with a warm welcome by Marjeta Bobnar, Coordinator, ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, of the Archdiocese of Vancouver and by the Venerable Grant Rodgers, Chair of the Ecumenical and Multi-Faith Unit of the Diocese of New Westminster. Following this welcome, Rt. Rev. John Braganza, OSB, Abbot of Westminster Abbey in Mission led us in the Liturgy of the Hours, an opportunity for contemplative recitation of the Scriptures and prayer together.
Following a time of informal talk and refreshments, Anne Larochelle of the Ecumenical and Multi-Faith Unit moderated the discussion between Richard and Christophe. She moved the conversation along thoughtfully and engaged both speakers in focussed observation about the time they have spent together.
As facilitator of my table group of eight, I was inspired by the desire to work together expressed by the three Anglicans and five Roman Catholics around the table. Other table groups included Lutherans and representatives of some other denominational groups. There was a healthy mixture of lay people and clergy and ages ranged from university students to a lady who talked about being a part of St. Helen’s RC Parish(our hosts) since 1929. She remembers attending St. Helen’s School and witnessing the friendship that existed between the priest at St. Helen’s and the priest at St. Nicholas Anglican across the street. She quipped that later the priests acknowledged that “we had an ecumenical presence long before such things became popular”.
I hope that more Catholics and Anglicans will gather for the next session of these three dialogue opportunities on Sunday, March 23. The third session is slated for Sunday, May 4.
Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam and a blogmaster at NW Anglican Blog.