Two or three times a year the Executive Committee of the Commission organise open meetings with a speaker.
Keep an eye on this page for news of the next one.
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The last Open Meeting was on June 6th, 2015, at St. Augustine's
Heelands, Milton Keynes, MK13 7PL,
On this date the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission heard all about the contribution that the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham makes to the Ecumenical structures of the Country from Mgr. Keith Newton, the leader of the Ordinariate.
As ‘Ordinary’ of the Ordinariate he has the equivalent jurisdiction of a Bishop, and is a member of the Bishops’ Conference.Over 40 people from the diocese came to the talk.
The Ordinariate is composed of groups of Anglicans who became Catholics, and following the provisions enacted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, retain some of their Anglican Patrimony: forms of worship, discipline, etc., although becoming an integral part of the Catholic Church – a bit like a religious order, or one of the Eastern Churches sui iuris.
Mgr. Keith Newton, who used to be Bishop of Richborough, a provincial episcopal visitor (‘flying bishop’) in the Church of England, said that the Ordinariate was in the tradition of the ‘Malines Conversations’ of the 1920s. (These were the conversations between some Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church in Blegium, seeking corporate reunion.) Mgr. Newton portrayed the Ordinariate as accomplishing a major step forward in the unity of Christendom: groups of Anglicans joining the Catholic Church, with their heritage intact.He said that this was part of the richness of the Catholic Church. He also told the group that the rules have been relaxed and individual ex-Anglicans can also join the Ordinariate, as well as groups.
His talk was well received, and there were several questions put to him at the end of the talk..
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The previous one was on Saturday 11th October 2014.
Ecumenism in action in Sport. Guest speaker was Mgr. Vladimir Felzmann, CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport - Former Chaplain to the London 2012 Olympic Games - Member of the Inter-Faith Chaplaincy at Canary Wharf. Mgr. Felzmann spoke about the importance of
sport as an opening for ecumenism and evangelisation
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Before that, the previous meeting was on Saturday 21st June 2014
That gathering, entitled ‘Ecumenism: the Joy and the Challenge’, was led by Bishop Peter Doyle and members of the Executive of the Ecumenical Commission. Here's a Report from member Teresa Brown.
This recent meeting of Parish representatives attracted a large gathering of people from across the diocese, together with ecumenical friends from different denominations. The opportunity to see what Pope Francis has to say about Christian Unity in the Youtube videos we watched, and to hear Bishop Peter’s comments and observations on ecumenism in this diocese, led to a fascinating discussion and time of sharing.
This ranged from the Holy Spirit and our common Baptism, to HOPE MK, (a project to encourage young people to engage in mission & evangelism across Milton Keynes), to receptive ecumenism, praying together and simply going to each other’s churches. We soon became aware of significant work that happens ecumenically in parishes across all counties of the diocese, and we were encouraged by the presence of three County Ecumenical Officers, from Churches Together in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.
The morning ended with a Christian Unity Service called Perfect Love Casts Out Fear, written last year by Mgr Sean Healy. It is offered as a resource for people to use in their parishes at any time of year, enabling Catholics to host an event and invite their neighbouring churches to take part. It was good to end the joy and challenge of this day by praying together, and we look forward to future meetings.
LINKS: 1 Pope calls for Christian Unity during general audience
2 Pope Francis on Catholics, Orthodox and other Christians
3 Perfect Love Casts Out Fear – Service (in PDF)
4 Perfect Love Casts Out Fear – Service (in Word)
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A welcome visitor to the diocese on 28th September 2013 was Fr. Robert Byrne, the Church’s national ecumenical officer. He was at St. Augustine’s in Milton Keynes, talking to parish representatives about "Ecumenism, national and local", at a meeting organised by the diocesan Ecumenical Commission.
He said that the aim of the ecumenical process is to reach full and visible unity through a process of prayer and listening. In England the scene is changing radically with the growth of Pentecostal churches. When the organisation Churches Together in England began, in 1990, it had 16 members, currently it has nearly 50; and besides the established ongoing conversations with Anglican, Methodists and the United Reformed Church, new dialogues are beginning with the Baptists, Orthodox, and Pentecostal churches.
He stressed that ecumenism is not “an appendix which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. But ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she does,” as Bl. Pope John Paul II said in his Encyclical Ut Unum Sint.
He asked people to practice spiritual ecumenism: coming together with other Christians to share prayer. It is a way of exchanging gifts, without threatening anyone. It allows the Holy Spirit to guide our path to unity. – We should be prepared to listen to each other, appreciate different positions, and learn from each other.
After his talk there was to be a time of discussion and questions, and an opportunity for Parish Reps to report briefly on any special ecumenical events in their area, to advertise future events, or to seek help from the commission.
An invitation letter which was sent out to parish representatives is available here and a poster here - now purely for information .
November 2013 - click here for an account of Fr Byrne's visit to Rome with Churches Together in England leaders during October.
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The previous meeting took place on Saturday 2nd March 2013
The representatives from the various parishes of the diocese looked at the growth of the church's teaching and practice on ecumenism. The morning was led by Fr. James Cassidy, the Diocesan Ecumenical Officer, who presented an overview of the church's documents from 1302 to the documents of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 and also the encyclical of John Paul II in 1995.
The parish representatives reflected together on their experiences of working with other churches. In particular, they remarked on the vast change of practice in the Catholic Church concerning "mixed marriages" from the 1960s to the present day