Bishop John P. Dolan — along with Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger — joined their counterparts from other Christian traditions throughout the state of Arizona to pray Christian Unity on Jan. 24 at St. Apkar Armenian Apostolic Church in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The gathering served as a statewide celebration of the global Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25. The World Council of Churches, in collaboration with the Pontifical Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and — this year, the Chemin Neuf French Catholic and ecumenical community of vowed and lay people in Burkina Faso — compiled the order of the service to be used throughout the world.
“This work towards unity is a desire of our Lord’s own heart. He prayed in John 17 that we might all be one as He and the Father are one,” said Fr. David Loeffler, director of the Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the Diocese of Phoenix and pastor of Holy Spirit Newman Center at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. “It’s a beautiful thing when our prayer echoes Him. It’s an opportunity to come together and to remember that anyone who really loves the Lord Jesus has to desire unity because He desires it.”
During the service, Bishop Weisenburger blessed the holy water that he and the Rev. Deborah K Hutterer, bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, then sprinkled on the interdenominational congregation gathered in the church. Bishop Dolan incensed the lectern before proclaiming the evening’s Gospel passage taken from Luke’s account of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
In his reflection, Armenian Apostolic Archbishop Hovnan Derderian recalled a line from the service’s opening song: “To become the eyes and hands of Christ.”
“As we pray together, we feel that we are in the Upper Room. We feel and live the descent of the Holy Spirit in the depths of our hearts and souls,” said Archbishop Hovnan, who leads the Armenian Apostolic Church’s Western Diocese, which is based out of Burbank, Calif. and covers 20 states, including Arizona.
“The world we inhabit today mirrors the pain and suffering witnessed in the parable. As clergy, we can be the holy hands of God in the troubled world, bringing peace, joy and hope through the living word of God,” he added. “Your prayerful presence empowers me personally and all of us to practice God’s will.”