Local Catholics, Lutherans consider common heritage

Messenger Editor 

Catholic and Lutheran Christians from across the globe will commemorate together on Oct. 31, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation.

The commemorations stem from the new joint report released in June in advance of the anniversary. Signed by Catholic Bishop Karlheinz Diez, auxiliary bishop of Fulda, Germany, acting on behalf of the Catholic co-chairman of the International Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity, and Lutheran co-chairman Bishop Eero Huovinen, the bishop emeritus of Helsinki, Finland, the report, titled: “From Conflict to Communion” is the latest initiative between Lutheran and Catholic scholars that began with the Second Vatican Council.

Here in the Diocese of Belleville, local Catholics and Lutherans will come together for a “Service of Common Prayer” sponsored by The Wartburg Parish – Central/Southern Illinois Synod of the ELCA and The West Vicariate of the Diocese of Belleville. The joint observance will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chester.

The service, created through a joint task force of the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical College in Rome, will be presided over by Father Eugene Wojcick of Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church, Chester, and Pastor Dennis Scoville, St. John Lutheran, Bremen. Bishop John Roth of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod, ELCA and the Rev. Robert Flannery, Vicar for Ecumenical Affairs from the Diocese of Belleville will offer reflections.

A combined choir will sing during the joint prayer service.

Organizers say that unlike the past celebrations in 1917, 1817 and 1717, which were anti-ecumenical events, with Lutherans often celebrating it as “light after darkness,” this anniversary is an attempt to make the 500th anniversary of the Reformation a positive event.