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Origins, meaning of week of prayer for Christian unity traced to American priest

FR. JAMES PUGLISI ;

Minister General, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement ;

“He is an extremely human person, A person who was very related to what was going on in his time, but at the same time had a vision looking forward. Seeing beyond the concrete facts of today and seeing how God was moving the course of history.” ;

Born to an Anglican preacher, his desire to care for others led him to establish the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. The society worked, among other things, to bridge the divide between the Anglican and Catholic churches. The unity he strove for inspired him to come up with the idea of an octave of prayer for unity. It takes place each year from January 18-25. ;

FR. JAMES PUGLISI ;

Minister General, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement ;

“They were two bookends; and the bookends were the Chair of St. Peter on the 18, so he saw this as the center of unity gathered around St. Peters Chair, and the 25 was the conversion of Paul who was the apostle preaching to all the nations.” ;

The origins and purpose of week of prayer is ever present in the book Fire in the Night, an autobiography of Father Wattson. The book, soon to be published by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, explains how Father Wattson realized the need to pray for unity, especially to evangelize the world. ;

FR. JAMES PUGLISI ;

Minister General, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement ;

“They believe there?s an Anglican God, a Catholic God, a Baptist God. But how can they accept us when we say that God is one. So you see this scandal of the division of Christians is fundamental. This is what pushed Father Paul to say that this prayer is necessary.” ;

This year?s theme centers on the topics of justice and solidarity within unity, inspired by the demeaning treatment of the ?untouchable? class in Indian society. During the week of prayer, people are asked to pray not just for ecumenical unity, as in the union between the Christian churches, but also for closer unity of each individual to God. ;

RCarr ;

AA ;

JM

-PR ;

-U:RCarr