Works in progress in Padua

Works in progress in Padua

Those who, last November, participated at the meeting of the Friends of Together for Europe have enthused us with what they experienced and with future projects.

We are all looking forward to organize a Prayer Vigil to be held to mark May 9, Europe Day. From the very first contacts we were surprised to find so much interest for the idea: in fact, new interested groups have been approached and a new range of relationships has been established.

The first step was to approach the local Church so as to create the May 9 event in synergy. Then we contacted the priest who runs the University Centre and who also coordinates the “Biblical Festival” which is scheduled for May 10 – 12. We were warmly welcomed, seeing that the theme of the event is “The City and Citizenship”: indeed, Europe was a theme already on the program and thus we proposed to include the Prayer Vigil of Together for Europe in the program of the Festival.

Moreover, we have been asked to find an expert on Europe to address an event organized for young people, consisting of a photographic competition, with prizes, for secondary school students in Padua and its province with the theme: “Never without the other”.

The responsible for the Festival has also asked us to show a short video which narrates the history of Together for Europe during the evening dedicated to Europe.

We spoke to the person responsible for the Ministry with Migrants, and we discovered an unknown reality: in the Diocese of Padua there are 110.000 migrants; more than half are Christian, and these are ministered to by priests coming from their native Countries. We met 12 priests from India, Sri Lanka, China and Eastern Europe, and they all welcomed the idea of the Prayer Vigil and the evening dedicated to Europe. We never imagined that, in a poor rectory, we would be speaking to such a group of persons coming from so many parts of the world!

Also, we met a Rumanian Orthodox priest who chairs the Ecumenical Council of Churches: he was extremely pleased that the event will be part of a “Biblical Festival”, because, as he said, “it is the Bible that unites us all”.

Later, we met almost all the members of the Ecumenical Council: the persons representing the Greek Orthodox, the Rumanian Orthodox, the Methodist and the Lutheran Churches. With them it was decided to hold the Prayer Vigil on May 9, as an opening of the Biblical Festival; it will be held in the church of St Sophia, a most beautiful Romanic church in Padua.

All the groups we contacted form part of the preparatory commission of the Prayer Vigil (now enhanced as international and ecumenical). After the Prayer Vigil, during a convivial gathering, typical dishes from various Countries will be served.

The Team of Together for Europe in Padua

9th May: Europe Day

9th May: Europe Day

It is encouraging to see the good intentions and new commitment to the European project

This day marks the anniversary of the beginning of the process of European integration. On 9th May 1950 Robert Schuman presented a plan for European cooperation known as ‘The Schuman Declaration’. This day also marks the anniversary of the end of Second World War, following the Nazi surrender on 8th May.

However, this day also marks victory for the then Soviet Union in 1945 as a result of which many Central and Eastern European countries became satellite states to Moscow.

It is a day in history of territorial gains, affecting an entire section of humanity, both in positive and in negative ways. As such, it is a historical day, Europe Day.

In European Union member countries, the EU Institutions hold Open Days in order to help European citizens to better understand the great “enterprise” which, since the year 2000 has as its motto: ‘United in diversity’. A motto that “signifies how Europeans have come together, in the form of the EU, to work for peace and prosperity, while at the same time being enriched by the continent’s many different cultures, traditions and languages.” To date, the motto appears as a challenge more so than a lived experience. However, it is encouraging to see the good intentions and new commitment to the European project, shown by the joint declaration of heads of state and government, which was signed on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.

We, Christians of different Churches, through our respective charisms, within our Movements and Communities, feel called upon on this Europe Day to continue our work for a more brotherly and united Europe. On the journey of Together for Europe, we have experienced that unity in diversity is possible based on a shared premise that we are all children of God and brothers. Every effort to build friendship and brotherhood in our communities, is precious. Our diversity becomes gift and mutual enrichment. And if this works on a small scale, it can be extended further to all in helping to serve the greater common good.

Ilona Toth