Co-chairs Susan Klein and Canon Michael Jackson describe the many joint activities initiated by the Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant Implementation Committee at a workshop for parish representatives held in Regina Nov. 19. (Photo by Joanne Shurvin-Martin)
REGINA — More than two dozen representatives from Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes across southern Saskatchewan met Nov. 19 for a workshop, in which they shared stories of ecumenical action in their areas and learned about Anglican and Roman Catholic dialogues at national and international levels.
Rev. 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. Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen then recounted how the covenant between the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Archdiocese of Regina had come to be: it was built on relationships that had been developing since the 1960s, he explained, and was signed in January 2011.
Bolen has been involved in ecumenical relations at all levels, including the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican from 2001 to 2008. “We were created for community, with God and with one another,” he said, adding that 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 they were encouraged to start small — “You can’t do everything at once” — but she has been surprised by how much has been accomplished 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 costly repairs to their building, Immaculate Conception parishioners 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. “It’s worked out very well. They’ve been extraordinarily welcoming to us.”
Herman and Farrer described what their congregation had to do — chiefly, adjusting their own schedule in order to fit the Catholic services in. Minor alterations were made to the lectern to fit a larger book, and hymn boards were added. The changing service schedule has meant that some people have come to church at the wrong time, but they often stay for whatever service is being celebrated, and have learned that there are many similarities in the two traditions. ARCCIC member Susan Rollins of Plain and Valley Parish, Lumsden, commented that people get attached to their church buildings, “but if we are worshipping God, we can do that anywhere.”
Elsewhere, there have been many examples of the churches working together, sometimes with other 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 theWeek of Prayer for Christian Unity. Other examples include a joint marriage preparation course, potluck dinners, youth groups, and events focusing on First Nations.
At 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 homilist, at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Regina. Joint workshops for intercessors and lectors have been well attended, and deacons from both traditions have attended various gatherings and programs.
Anglican delegations attended the funeral of Archbishop Daniel Bohan and the installation of Archbishop Donald Bolen. The episcopal ordination of Anglican Bishop Rob Hardwick was held at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, with Bohan and other clergy attending. ARCCIC also 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.”
ARCIC member Nick Jesson, ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Regina, placed the local covenant in the international and national context. He pointed out that, when it comes to 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 discussed the first agreed statement — on the eucharist — which was issued in 1971, and was followed by statements on ordination and ministry, authority in the church, and, most recently, the statement on Mary. Jesson provided handouts with excerpts from the statements and the history of the many documents prepared by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), which is a joint commission of the Anglican Communion and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Bolen is international co-chair of IARCCUM.
Toward the end of the workshop, Canon Michael Jackson, ARCCIC co-chair, led a tour of the Anglican cathedral, which was followed by mid-day prayers. Archdeacon Catherine Harper offered a closing prayer.
ARCCIC has been encouraging parishes to appoint lay ecumenical representatives to advance the work of the covenant at the local level. So far 16 Anglican and 17 Roman Catholic parishes have done so.
The workshop for parish representatives was the first of its kind, but it is expected to become an annual event.