Members of The Lay Centre student community joined Pope Francis in praying for Christian unity at an ecumenical prayer service, 25 January, at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls.
Phìlippos Demosthenous, a Greek Orthodox student currently residing at The Lay Centre, read one of the prayers of intercession. A former resident, Ivan Plavšić, an Orthodox student from Serbia, was also among those reading prayers of petition.
Students from St Mary’s College of California were also in attendance. They were in Rome for their January Term for a course on the Early Church, parts of which were coordinated and facilitated by The Lay Centre’s international program.
The ecumenical prayer service marked the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is observed each year, from 18 to 25 January.
In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the many Christians, who are being killed in countries around the world because of their faith, uniting all Christians in “the ecumenism of blood.”
Those who kill and persecute Christians make no distinction about “which denomination they belong to,” said the Pope. “They are Christians and for that (they are) persecuted. This, brothers and sisters, is the ecumenism of blood.”
The Lay Centre community participates at the papal vigil for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity each year, passing on to the lay students who live there the commitment to work and to pray for Christian unity.
It is a cause that The Lay Centre inherited from the Ladies of Bethany and continues to hold to heart. The Ladies of Bethany were seminal in The Lay Centre’s history, supporting its foundation in 1986, and housing it for several years at their ecumenical welcome centre, Foyer Unitas, at Piazza Navona.