Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 19, 2009
Archdiocesan Church has developed strong ecumenical commitment
BY GLEN ARGAN
Sr. Rosaleen Zdunich
The local Church also participates in ecumenical dialogues with experts from various churches sharing their churches’ understanding of various issues.
Hammond said one key place of ecumenical encounter is in the home. At least 50 per cent of marriages are mixed marriages.
“That creates an incredibly rich ecumenical opportunity if we hold the family to be the domestic Church. It’s a vocation within a vocation to model ecumenical activity every day of their lives.”
Mixed marriages should be seen as “another prophetic moment for our Church rather than as something negative.”
Hammond juggles other responsibilities in his job with the archdiocese and he notes his ecumenical work is “very part-time.”
That’s a difference from earlier days when Sister Rosaleen Zdunich served first as volunteer chair of an active archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission and then as full-time director of ecumenism until 1995.
Passionate about ecumenism, Zdunich was honoured for her work in 1992 by the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism. She said she got her drive from “working with our own commission and with other Christians – Anglicans, Lutherans and United Church especially.
“It was profound. I found the people I worked with in these mainline churches were so spiritual, so religious. I always felt that working with them was a privilege.”
Zdunich launched the city-wide Christian Unity Week prayer service in 1990. She also organized the first Western Institute in Ecumenism at Newman Theological College in 1987 as well as a host of other activities.
Many parishes had their own ecumenical coordinators.
She sees the annual inner-city Way of the Cross that has run every Good Friday since 1981 as another hopeful sign.
Zdunich is buoyed by Pope Benedict’s support for ecumenism and his call for “a broad and detailed reflection on what the ecumenical movement has achieved, where it has stalled and what is needed to move it forward.”
Hammond agrees that Church leaders have promoted ecumenism and that there is a great deal of openness to it at the grassroots level.
“Somewhere in the middle, something has been missing,” he said. “In my work in this field, I haven’t quite got a handle on that yet.”
The archdiocese abolished the Ecumenical Commission in 2004 along with other commissions and restructured his office.
“Some people have been critical of that change,” he said. “The upside of the change is what the council’s Decree on Ecumenism said: Ecumenism has become the responsibility of all.”
Like Zdunich, Hammond also sees a great need for Catholic faith formation. “We don’t fully understand our own tradition, let alone have a handle on the tradition of others.”
He recalls being in ecumenical meetings with other Catholics “who have been prepared to sell the farm.”
The goal of ecumenism, he said, is to share spiritual gifts so that one day, through the work of the Holy Spirit, Church unity will be restored.
“You can’t give what you haven’t got. When you don’t know the gifts of our own tradition, it is difficult to share with other traditions.”
Zdunich said she is discouraged when people confuse ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue. Both have an important place, but they are very different.
Nevertheless, she remains hopeful.
“Ecumenism is part of our life. It’s still at the front of discussion at the Vatican and in parishes,” she said. “I find parishioners very interested in ecumenism. There is a general interest across the archdiocese.”
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.