January 23, 2011, will go down in southern Saskatchewan religious history as Kerr-Wilson and Regina Archbishop Daniel Bohan signed an historic covenant committing the Roman Catholic and Anglican dioceses to an unprecedented level of joint services and co-operation.
The two bishops signed the covenant during an ecumenical prayer service that featured participants from St. Paul’s and Holy Rosary cathedrals.
The covenant is not a formal union, as Bohan pointed out at the beginning of his homily.
“We are coming together to celebrate what we believe in common as Christian churches, and to celebrate what we have achieved in our ongoing search for deeper union, and we are going to commit to do certain things together as disciples of Christ.”
The covenant commits the two churches in five activities: holding a joint prayer service with bishops present, ideally during Easter season and alternating between the two cathedrals; remembering each other in the Sunday service intercessions; working together on justice issues where the two are working together in the developing world; holding joint meetings with First Nations elders to promote reconciliation and healing; and maintaining communications between the two churches when an issue arises in one Church that has implications or challenges for the other.
It also encourages 14 other activities, including common services during Lent and Advent, common study sessions, common programs, youth leadership, regular meetings of those with similar ministries, social occasions to promote fellowship and speaking out together on areas of common concern.
The covenant also encourages neighbouring Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes to explore a similar covenant, and other Christian churches were invited to share in the proposed activities and initiatives, where possible.
“The basis of our coming together is our faith in Jesus Christ,” said Kerr-Wilson. “There is one Lord, one baptism and one faith.”
Bohan’s homily shared a similar theme. He quoted Pope Benedict from his visit to Westminster Abbey last year: “What we share in Christ is greater than what divides us.”