Here the various appointments
On May 11, 2019, after having met on a regular basis with Mgr. Le Gall, their bishop, will be holding an open meeting to deepen the objectives of Together for Europe.
After having made a survey in the streets of Lyon, the local committee is organizing a cultural evening on the 3 themes that emerged from the survey: ‘Peace, Culture and Economy’. This will be held on May 11, and will be followed by a Prayer Vigil for Europe and for the imminent elections.
- May 9, at the Students’ House: a Conference about Europe by the ex-speaker of the European Parliament (François Brunagel); a refugee from the Cameroons and a university student following the Erasmus program will share their witnessing. The ensuing debate will be chaired by a personality from the Churches’ Radio of the region;
- May 10, at an Evangelical church: an ecumenical prayer service for Europe, with representatives of four Churches taking part. A get-together will follow, with wines and cheeses from various European countries being served;
The promotion for these 2 events will be done jointly and it will be made available in the churches of the various denominations present in the region. The leaflets will be handed out personally.
- April 2, as part of “the journey toward May 9”, in the chapel of the Protestant Deaconesses of the ‘Maison d’unite’, 60 persons gathered for an ecumenical prayer service organized by various Movements. The reflections and the intentions of the prayers were based on our 7 Yeses.
- May 4, in the Municipality Square, a stand will be erected as part of the “Village Européen”, which is organized for the Feast of Europe by the House of Europe and the Paris commune.
- May 14, at 8.30 p.m.: a Prayer Vigil for Europe in the church of Longjumeau, on the outskirts of Paris, is being organized by the Emmanuel community and the Focolare Movement.
Tuesday, 14 May 8.30 pm prayer for Europe
Download the flyer / poster of the various events (french language):
The group of Movements and Communities of Rome has warmly welcomed the invitation to join the “Prayer Journey” for Europe which goes on for six weeks, from March 25 till May 9, 2019. The communities of 5 important Basilicas linked to the Patron Saints of Europe have committed themselves to pray daily for Europe; each day, in turn, a Movement of Together for Europe enlivens these prayers.
Moreover, so as to deepen some of our 7 Yeses, there will be the following initiatives:
- Gigi De Palo will take part in a debate with university students on the ‘Family’. This is scheduled for Sunday, April 28 at 3.30 p.m. in the tent for conferences at the Galoppatoio in Villa Borghese, as part of the “Village for the Earth”, www.villaggioperlaterra.it/;
- A meeting with the theme “Nuclear Peace and Environmental Challenges”: Christians in Europe will be held at the Institute Maria SS. Bambina – Vatican City, on Wednesday May 8, from 9.00 a.m. till 4 p.m. www.nuclearforpeace.org.
On the eve of the Europe Day, Wednesday May 8, 2019:
- 4.30 p.m., at the ‘Spazio Europa’ (run by the Office of the European Parliament in Italy and the Commission’s Representation in Italy) there will be a cultural meeting with the theme “A new economy for Europe in the spirit of the Founding Fathers”; Prof Leonardo Becchetti (Professor of political economy at the Tor Vergata University) will deliver the keynote speech, which will be followed by a debate;
- 6.30 p.m., an ecumenical Prayer Vigil for Europe at the Basilica dei XII Apostoli (Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles), Piazza SS. Apostoli, with the theme: «… each one heard their own language being spoken» (Acts 2, 6).
Download the Flyer for the Vigil of May 8, 2019 (in italian)
At the meeting in February this year, together with almost all the Movements and Communities in Slovenia that are engaged in Together for Europe, we started working on the idea that emerged last November in Prague of organising “Europe Day” on 9th May as an event that would leave an indelible mark on the people of Slovenia by presenting the values of Together for Europe.
Many of us will also be going to Klagenfurt, Carinthia in Austria on 3rd May to celebrate Europe Day with some of our Italian neighbours.
On 4th May we will be in Brezje visiting Slovenia’s most famous Marian shrine where Archbishop Stanislav Zore will celebrate Mass and where we will praying together for a united Europe. Immediately afterwards there will be a moment of encounter between everyone from the different Movements and Communities; it will be a wonderful opportunity to deepen the unity and friendship that has bound us together for so long.
We will use every means of communication to spread the word about this event and take the idea of “Europe Day” all over Slovenia. We will also participate in the prayer network taking place in Europe from 25 March to 9 May, and this year we would also like to invite different personalities and members of the press that we have got to know to the different events.
We have also decided to take concrete action towards reconciliation in Slovenia.
Marjana and Pavel Snoj on behalf of the Together for Europe Team in Slovenia
We are a group of Movements belonging to diverse Churches in Carinthia. Our praying together and a fruitful dialogue helped us to reflect upon how to celebrate the “Europe Day 2019”.
Through the contact with the “Europahaus” (House of Europe) at Klagenfurt we found a suitable place and this allowed us to outline our project.
The central theme will be “Europe without Christ?” By presenting our 7 Yeses, we aim at inspiring a reflection upon the contribution we could provide toward a sustainable Europe.
We live in Carinthia which is a crossroads of Europe and where three nations feel at home. For centuries there were here Romans, Slavs and German tribes. For this reason we have invited guests from Lublin, Trieste and Graz so as to meet together and share our experiences.
On May 3, 2019, we shall have the opportunity to celebrate a journey of relationships and harmony, which resulted in 70 years of peace. Together we will be able to appreciate how the diversity of nations in Europe enriches us.
While celebrating our “Europe Day”, we want to show our gratitude for all this and to express our hope for a peaceful future.
Manfred and Fini Wieser, team of Together for Europe, Carinthia
Download the invitation here (available only in German)
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
Little examples of synergy between Movements and “pro Europe” initiatives
‘Together for’ in Dresden
We are a little group of the Focolare Movement in Dresden. A few months ago, in the city’s main square, we were able to speak to 200 people about universal fraternity, presenting the thoughts of Chiara Lubich that she had addressed to 700 mayors from Europe gathered together in Innsbruck in 2001. We were with other organisers including “Pulse of Europe”, an initiative which is open to all whose aim is to live together for a united democratic Europe. Each month this organisation puts together a programme to make people aware of their aims, emphasizing peace and all the values on which Europe is based. That ‘spiritual fraternity’ which also connects us through the person of Chiara who has spread the values of universal fraternity in people all over the world was very evident, also in view of the great project of building a united Europe.
One of those responsible for the young people of the dioceses, a Jesuit, hearing about our collaboration, strongly encouraged us: “Go ahead! You can make your contribution without complication. I really ask this for you: go ahead with courage, others are too afraid!” Yes, we are few but we must and can take the new path that He shows us! We are very happy to have known the people of “Pulse of Europe”, and they know that we support them. We can say this sincerely: their business, their great challenge is also ours.
Monika Scheidler, Ilse Fehr
The Neocatecumenal Way celebrates its 40th anniversary in Slovenia. It’s the opportunity to celebrate within the big family of the Movements.
On first of September, the Neocatecumenal Way in Slovenia celebrated the 40th anniversary of its presence in the country. Representatives from other movements, like Couples for Christ, Movimento Cammino (Pot), Focolare Movement, Renewal in the Holy Spirit and the Emmanuel Community celebrated with them. The celebration was really well prepared with a solemn mass, concelebrated with 5 bishops and at the end an agape which gave time and space for fraternal relationships and sharing. The visit for this anniversary of the first Neocatecumenal itinerants of Italy who had brought this spirit to Slovenia 40 years ago, was a particular gift. It was an opportunity to build real and deep relationships. We were welcomed very warmly in the hall and the present Movements were named as some of the special guests.
The network of different Movements in Slovenia has been strengthened over all these years also thanks to the reciprocal help and hospitality that, for example, the Focolare Movement has been able to offer in its Mariapolis Centre in Planina for 200 Ukrainians of the Neocatecumenal Way that travelling to Rome and back were able to stop and take rest there. With joy next week 80 Ukrainians will be hosted again on their way to the Eternal City. For those who are travelling towards Italy we are at a strategic point and we are also happy to offer the centre for sharing between the Movements.
Pavel and Marjana Snoj, Slovenia
In 2019 Elections will be held for the European Parliament. Two weeks earlier, on May 9th, “Europe Day” will be celebrated. If we want to give our contribution to the establishment of a lively Europa with a promising future, we have to get started in time in the various countries and cities.
It seems that Together for Europe is more relevant than ever today, at a time when our continent is facing many challenges. We are convinced that God did not raise this network without a reason.
Europe is on everyone’s lips. But how will it be possible to make our contribution as Christians in the construction of today’s Europe? Our possibilities are limited. And yet it’s the small, but creative and motivated, minorities that can make a difference and contribute to change. For this reason it will be important that we leave our charisms to unfold: Our vocation of unity, our culture of “Togetherness” is today more necessary than ever.
9 May – Europe Day
At the meeting of the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ in Vienna in 2017, the intent of Jeff Fountain (Netherlands) and of the Italian group, to make May 9th, Day of Europe, a lively event has given rise to much interest. This year, events have already taken place in some regions.
For 2019 it seems important to start including this date in our annual program, to gather locally as Movements and Communities and explore the possibilities of this day. It could also be useful to include other initiatives that are committed to a “Togetherness” in Europe. Two weeks later elections for the European Parliament will take place; there will certainly be favorable pressures and creative ideas. Therefore, in 2019 there is an added value: May 9th should be a day of joy, of celebration, of commitment and of prayer!
Europe needs our prayer.
In addition to the impulses and initiatives already launched , we see our contribution to Europe in prayer as well. After our initiatives in the wake of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, on March 24, 2017, we saw its transforming force. We trust that much will move in heaven and on earth when we pray together in unity for our Continent.
Gerhard Proß, Diego Goller, P. Heinrich Walter
See also: Involve your city>
Foto: ©Ursel Haaf – www.urselhaaf.de
In the days before and after 9th May, a spirit of creativity and imagination animated Europe for the occasion of Europe Day 2018. Let us take a short tour of some of the places and initiatives associated with this celebration.
In Bratislava (Slovakia), apart from a meeting attended by 120 people, an evening dedicated to youth took place with the objective of exchanging ideas on a more united Europe and ways of becoming instruments of dialogue and understanding for others.
In Trent (Italy) the Movements – Friends of TFE met on 9th May to prepare for an open meeting which was held on May 21st with a programme built around the DVD recording from TFE event ‘Munich 2016’.
In Belgium three Movements used this opportunity to meet and get to know each other better.
In Milan’s Ambrosianeum (Italy) the Movements involved in TFE attended a reading of Robert Schuman’s essay “For Europe”.
In Zagreb (Croatia), forty members from Charismatic Renewal, the Schoenstatt Movement, Ignigo, Ecumenical Forum, the Focolare Movement as well as representatives of the Baptist Church and one of the Free Churches met together to pray for Europe and to listen to a reflection by American actress Kathleen Ann Thompson. The piece she performed, entitled “Is it right?” inspired by D. Bonhoeffer, the Scriptures and Thompson’s personal experience showed the Christian response to suffering.
In response to an invitation launched last November in Vienna offering formation on Europe to young people, the Movements of TFE of Slovenia visited a catholic secondary school in Ljubljana, where they met 60 third year students (all around 18 years of age). In a two-hour session they spoke about the Founding Fathers of Europe (Schuman, De Gasperi and Adenauer) as well as about the journey of TFE which was presented through experiences of personal commitment. The session was met by great interest by the students and their teacher. Another initiative of the Slovenian Committee of TFE was a letter addressed to the President of Slovenia in which the committee introduced TFE Network and proposed a collaboration on the occasion of the 9th May celebrations. Whilst awaiting his response, the Committee went ahead and staged a sizable public event in Ljubljana City Centre.
In Esslingen (Germany) City Major Dr. Jürgen Zieger, was invited to an event held by TFE. The Major spoke about Europe, addressing in particular the historical development of the Union and some specific local situations. Twinnings among cities following the catastrophe of World War II, stood out as an example of conciliatory peace in action. The enormous importance of Europe for Germany as a whole and for the city of Esslingen itself was clearly evident in all the addresses. Together for Europe’ YES to Europe was emphasised in the presentation of TFE activities and ‘Munich 2016’ video. After a joint prayer for Europe, participants shared a moment of conversation around the table with French wine and Italian focaccia bread.
In Rome (Italy), the local committee of TFE celebrated 9th May with a focus on commemorating Schumann’s Declaration. This year, 15 Movements, Communities and Associations extended an open invitation to a catholic mass held in the church of St. Mark the Evangelist in Campidoglio. Auxiliary bishop Mons. Gianrico Ruzza who concelebrated with a number of priests from different Movements invited the participants to value their European roots echoing Pope Francis. The day before the solemn mass, a high-level conference was held in the Vatican by an Italian voluntary group “Civiltà dell’Amore” and the NetOne communication network (www.netone.org) on the topic of disarmament and the safeguarding of creation (one of the topics of the Munich Congress 2016).
Europe Day was celebrated in Paris (France) on May 12th outside the Municipal Hall, in partnership with the “Maison de l’Europe” (House of Europe) where Together for Europe Network with other associations and bodies set up a “Village of Europe”. This event took place in the very heart of civic life and the majority of participants were young people. Together for Europe was represented at a stand, and visited by among others the Mayor of Paris, Ms Hidalgo and the Minister for European Affairs, Ms Nathalie Loiseau who showed a keen interest in the Network’s vision and initiatives.
In the Netherlands, three churches of Utrecht (Roman Catholic, Vetero-Catholic and Protestant Church) organised together a moment of prayer (Europe Day Vesper) in Utrecht Cathedral, followed by a symposium entitled: “Europe? Impulse to connect!”. As with other social institutions, the Churches felt compelled to begin a reflection on the state of the Continent, which, despite the recent re-emerging of difference and autonomies, carries within it seeds of collaboration. the presence of political and cultural figures facilitated a dialogue, signalling that ‘Together’ – a commitment to work together – is Europe’s only chance.
Who knows how many initiatives are happening all over Europe that we do not even hear about!
by Ada Guazzo
The 1st February was a special occasion for all involved in Together for Europe in Slovenia. For the very first time, representatives of various Movements presented Together for Europe in the Slovenian Parliament.
The delegation received a warm welcome from Jožef Horvat, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and his colleagues. Hungarian born Pal Toth who is professor of communication and a specialist in Western-Eastern relationships spoke about tensions between Eastern and Western Europe, and the role of Together for Europe in helping to resolve them. The Chair asked all present including former Minister for Culture to uphold our ideas. Mr Horvat and his colleagues expressed their gratitude for our visit and their appreciation for many of our ideas. To mark Europe Day the Committee undertook to propose to the Slovenian Parliament a new national holiday – Day of Europe –on May 9th, in place of another existing national holiday.
Later that day, representatives of the Movements met with Mons. Stanislav Zore Archbishop of Ljubljana and with Pal Toth to share impressions from a meeting of Friends of Together for Europe held last November. The ecumenical prayer in St. Stephen’s Cathedral which opened the Friends’ meeting stood out as an experience which encouraged one and all to making tangible steps towards greater reconciliation throughout Slovenia. Pal Toth presented a talk entitled “Culture of encounter between Eastern and Western Europe”; a contribution by Prof. Igor Bahovec highlighted the importance of finding spaces for dialogue and encounter, as well as that of rediscovering European roots in the work of our Movements’ founders and how Movements, along with other people of good will, can offer solutions to a ‘Europe of the Spirit’.
A 5-step programme proposed to be rolled out over the next few years received very positive feedback. Members of different Movements and Communities not only have one but two “vocations”: besides working for our own Movements we are also called to share a journey together. Archbishop Zore encouraged us to meet together regularly, because only as one community can we bear fruit, only together can we witness to Christianity according to Jesus’s invocation that ‘all may be one’ (John 17:21).
It was natural to solemnly renew the Pact of mutual love. The evening continued with questions, answers and proposals; an interview was recorded for the radio. Our relationships and resolutions were strengthened through fraternal dialogue. As someone remarked, a spark of enthusiasm was lit. Jesus truly guided our steps bringing us ever closer to a full communion and a more fruitful collaboration for Europe.
Pavel and Marjana Snoj
Saturday, December 9th, YMCA-Building in Wuerzburg: about 100 people from nearly 50 initiatives, communities and movements – which are active in Germany and connected in the network Together for Europe – come together for their annual national meeting.
“Together – how otherwise?” This is the headline that summarizes for me for what we experienced on this day in Würzburg. Such a long way travelled together that has brought out what unites us and how much power reconciled togetherness has! “Indeed a „Culture of Togetherness“ becomes clear, and I wish with all of my heart that it may gain ground in our communities, in our country and in the whole of Europe”. That was how, Sr. Nicole Grochowina from Christusbruderschaft Selbitz summarized her impression of the day. And she continued: “Therefore I am fully in favor of continuing to visit each other and go beyond our borders; we should find new friends in east and west and go on to shape togetherness throughout Europe – and be enriched by this”.
Theme of the Day
Besides a review of experiences in Together for Europe 18 years after it began, this year the question about the future way forward for the ecumenical network was the focus of our shared thinking.
„Unity among the people of God is a challenge for the future of Together for Europe, especially on how east and west Europe can come together more”, Gerhard Pross reported from the recent meeting of the European group of “Friends” of Together for Europe in Vienna.
Experience of Togetherness
Many of the participants spontaneously reported about their positive experiences during the commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the reformation. There were also good experiences with “Prayer for Europe” on the occasion of 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome and after the Reconciliation Service between the Protestant and Catholic Church in Hildesheim. Roswitha Fuerg, from the Focolare-Movement in Solingen was „impressed by the openness and depth in Together for Europe that has grown over the years”. The spontaneous reports of the participants showed how God leads people of different denominations and communities to get involved in this work for unity in many places“.
Fruits of Together for Europe after 18 years
Using the image of a growing tree, Sr. M. Vernita Weiss from the Schönstatt Movement made us envisage the fruits of Together for Europe after 18 years. She mentioned the deep roots from which a fruitful tree for the unity of Europe has grown and is growing.
Europe in the midst of challenges – A Culture of Togetherness
Regarding a Europe facing a lot of challenges from the political point of view, Gerhard Pross considered the task of Together for Europe first of all as living togetherness and mainly involving oneself in prayer for Europe. But a discernment of spirits is also required. „At a time, when the old negative spirits that led Europe repeatedly into disasters are coming up again, we say our No to nationalism and state more clearly our Yes to the Gospel, to reconciliation and to love (…). We say Yes to a culture of relationships and covenants – No to simplistic and ‘one size fits all’ solutions. (see also the address by Gerhard Pross in Rom, 24.3.2017
Steps towards the Future
Regarding the next steps, the participants shared the suggestions which had been developed during the annual meeting of the “Friends” of Together for Europe in Vienna. Especially highlighted were for example, encounters and mutual opportunities to meet and get to know each other with partners in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the idea to plan May 9th (already considered Europe Day) in 2018 and 2019 as a “Together for Europe Day” in the cities and regions.
„We felt a deep atmosphere of mutual appreciation and respect, but also of truth“, said Elisabeth and Hans-Georg Hagmann from Schönstatt movement describing their impressions. Johannes Golling, Leader of Julius-Schniewind-Haus e.V. (house of spirituality), summed up his experience of the day: „Meeting and visiting each other, making friends, listening to each other and being open to what is holy for the other person – that developed a dynamic exchange in the past which was illustrated today by plenty of examples”.
Text and photo: Heinrich Brehm
Network TOGETHER beyond the ocean
The name of the network – Together for Mexico – encompasses a lot. Whilst it may not be possible to grasp the full meaning of the “National Union of Catholic Movements” of Mexico, as the second National Meeting of Juntos por México (JXM), held in the city of Querétaro, from 6th to 8th October 2017 demonstrates, it can be experienced. 60 or more Ecclesial Movements, Associations of lay people, Catholic institutions, representatives of the Council from more than 90 dioceses of Mexico (a significant majority of dioceses in Mexico), approximately 4,700 people, young and old all “together for…” a brotherly Mexico, a society enlightened, healed and regenerated by the Gospel, that is, by Love. A space of dialogue and communion was created, to bring ahead an evangelisation within the Church to “go out together” and work in building a new society.
The concluding Manifesto launched at the end of the event and ratified by the signatures of the participants (and mounted on a 20m banner) read: “We aspire to be a new people. Wherever we come together and meet, called by the One who invites us to serve and work in love of neighbour, we will work to lay seeds and inspire others with a vision of a Mexico where there is more solidarity in its civic values, where there is more unity in its cultural diversity, a country that decisively promotes the human person.
As pinpointed by Carlos Valle e Esther Pérez, the national responsible for JXM on the occasion of the first official press conference, this is not just a vague aspiration but is already confirmed by the life and witness of many. The fundamental role of communion, unity, need for reflexion and the role of women were highlighted. The participants among whose numbers was also Mons. Faustino Armendáriz, Bishop of the diocese of Querétaro, stressed the role of the laity in any civil action that upholds family values and promotes social justice.
The theme of Family was also central to the message prepared for the meeting by Pope Francis, which was aimed at supporting and facilitating initiatives for the family, for unity and for life, and which expressed a wish for “an abundance of fruits so that Mexican society can become an authentic family in which no one feels excluded, where everyone can experience in their lives God’s tender closeness”.
Celebration, songs, reflections, workshops – a varied programme aimed at setting a course towards fulfilling the slogan: “Lay people, let us go out together to renew the world. The time is now!”
The earthquake which hit the country between 7th and 19th September and left a trail of destruction, also created a sense of solidarity which blossomed spontaneously and powerfully in the most affected areas. This solidarity showed the “real self” of the Mexican people and echoed a call that this sense of self shine out not only in situations of emergency, but also in the daily life of society.
The 12 workshops covered many important areas of social renewal including: economics, politics, education, migration, culture of legality (vs. social corruption), communication, ecology, social volunteering, youth, family, social fabric, rebuilding of peace and the social doctrine of the Church.
A new initiative was also launched, spearheaded by a network of volunteers who will work to connect various existing voluntary social programmes promoted by the Movements. The social areas where these programmes take place are many and different – hence the network’s task to open up new possibilities for mutual collaboration, thereby increasing the possibility for participation and ultimately increasing the positive impact in Mexican society.
An ardent ecumenical prayer service. On the 9th November, 2017, Vienna Cathedral – dedicated to St Stephen – became the focal point for Europe.
Visible, inviting, and European – this is how this “Ecumenical Evening Prayer for Europe” came across in the cathedral church of Vienna, the Stephansdom.
Members of the ecumenical network Together for Europe at the heart of the Austrian capital city, at the vigil of their annual Congress. They came from countries such as Portugal, Russia, England, and Greece.
Their aim: unity and reconciliation among various Christian denominations and cultures, as well as solidarity and integration within Europe.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn lead an ecumenical group of representatives of various Churches: hundreds of people gathered under the “Lettner” Cross which is a significant memorial of the victims of the two world wars. “People today do not expect us to rule, but to serve,” the Cardinal emphasized in his speech. The solemn prayer for a TOGETHERNESS of cultures and generations and for peace resounded powerfully.
“This moment of prayer was a multilingual, visible, and European sign of hope,” said one of the participants, “and it gives us hope for the future.”
At the reception that followed the celebration, Thomas Hennefeld, Superintendent of the Reformed Church of Austria and President of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Austria, and Joerg Wojahn, Head of the European Commission Representation in Austria, underlined that Christian values are the basis for a united Europe. “We need everybody,” exclaimed the representative of the EU.
After November 9, 1938 (the Night of Broken Glass) and November 9, 1989 (fall of the Berlin wall), couldn’t November 9, 2017, day of the ecumenical prayer, be a significant step on the road of Together for Europe and a sign for Europe?
Beatriz Lauenroth; Photo: Annemarie Baumgarten
A dream can become reality
On the eve of the reunion of “Together for Europe” in Vienna (9-11 November 2017), representatives from different Movements present in the Netherlands met in an attempt to answer the question ‘What are the current trends in the Netherlands and in Europe at large that can help inform a model for a united Europe’?
The Netherlands: ready for dialogue
“In the Netherlands, though practicing Christians are a minority, we share a precise task” affirmed Jan Wessels of the protestant network “Missie Nederland”. “Our main concern is to pass on the message of Jesus Christ and in this task, the Movements and the Churches can learn from and support each other “.
“Everyone is looking to make dreams into reality”, observed Ine Sassen-Pouwels (Catholic Charismatic Renewal) – and who better to dream than young people? So why not give young people of different Movements and Churches of the Netherlands “an opportunity to exchange thoughts and questions they have regarding their own life? The experience of the other mature young people might prove instrumental.”
Jeff Fountain, New Zealand born, married to a Dutch citizen, Director of the Schumann Centre for European Studies and expert on Europe posited: “The Netherlands is a cosmopolitan place particularly suited to dialogue about and for Europe” before making reference to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, himself of mixed German-Russian origin.
Relationships of life
There was an atmosphere of great mutual respect, and of joy accompanied by a desire to unite forces in order to contribute to European unity, each starting from their own country. “It’s all about relationships”, emphasised Enno Dijkma of the Focolare Movement. “Friendship among us gives wings to our ideas”. Openness to dialogue and the ‘Neighbour Meeting for Europe’ initiative are two promising concepts the Dutch delegation will bring to Vienna on the 9th of November. This meeting will also bring together representatives from Eastern and Western Europe and give them the opportunity to pool their ideas. We await with a great anticipation the positive outcomes of this meeting for Europe.
With the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome approaching, people in European cities gather to give witness to a Europe focused more than ever on dialogue and brotherhood. Trieste is one of them.
60 years ago, the Founding Fathers of Europe took the first steps on a path which would lead to greater European unity against the stench of blood and smoke and the rubble of a war driven by nationalist and racist extremism in Europe and which subsequently spread throughout the world. Only a comprehensive reformation including international, political, civic, economic, cultural and religious relationships between peoples and communities would be capable of paving a new way to help Europeans to emerge from a culture of widespread hatred.
60 years after the historic days which marked the signing of the Treaties of Rome in 1957, we re-affirm European unity as the indispensable means to maintaining peace and peaceful co-existence. Despite the failings, undeniable gaps, rigidities, bureaucratic excesses, misunderstandings and serious inequalities of the European Union, the advantages of the re-composition of Europe largely prevail. We must strive to continue on and to perfect the path we have undertaken, rather than obliterate it, as called for by nationalist and separatist voices, something that would only serve to draw us back into peace-threatening situations.
More than four million young European students have benefited from the Erasmus program in terms of formation and knowledge. Equally significant has been the number of European professionals, who have taken advantage of the freedom afforded by mobility within the EU which has facilitated the acquisition of expertise, as well as increased cultural, technological, commercial and economic exchange. Many young people have put themselves at the service of other European countries to their own, through the European Voluntary Service. A broad scholarly exchange has been made possible thanks to collaborations between universities. Improvements across a range of areas such as occupational and environmental safety, health care, tourism and culture, have been achieved through European directives that are reflected in national legislation. Religious communities have also set in motion processes for unification and integration extending to all Christian Churches and every religion.
We cannot afford to give up such benefits. Instead we must intensify and uphold this model for the sake of all European peoples who have suffered enough. In order to re-affirm this commitment, we will meet on 24th of March at 6pm in St. James’ Oratory (Oratorio di S. Giacomo) in Trieste for an evening of celebration marking this 60th anniversary. Promoting the event are approximately twenty associations, movements and communities, that all form part of a broader initiative called Together for Europe, which for the last 17 years has been active in many European cities, including Trieste. Together for Europe brings together the faithful of different religions, non-believers and people of good will who, rather than conflict seek peace and encounter. This will be an evening of reflection, brotherhood and celebration motivated by our own awareness of the urgent need to rediscover the importance of coming together in solidarity.
For the Coordination team of Together for Europe for Trieste, Italy
Photo Trieste: Di ryogt www.flickr.com/photos/ryogt/12980775/, CC BY-SA 2.0
On Friday 27th January 2017, in the “Green Room” of the Provincial Government building of Carinthia (South Austria) an unusual event was held: a gathering to pray for the province.
The initiative came from the group Together for Europe, which has as its aim to give expression to Europe’s Christian identity. Representatives of different Churches and from different social, political and cultural spheres came together in prayer. The Outi & Lee duo provided musical accompaniment at the event.
“We hope this initiative will benefit this House”, commented Mr Reinhart Roth, President of the Provincial Government of Carinthia, while thanking organisers of the event. Local Councillor Ms Ruth Feistritzer, representing the Mayor, was also in attendance.
Together for Europe numbers more than 300 Christian Movements, Communities and Missionary Works around Europe. “We seek that which unites – among Christians and in society in general; we say Yes to Life, Family, Creation, Fair Economy, Solidarity, Peace and Responsibility”, said Manfred and Fini Wieser, Coordinators of the Together for Europe group of Carinthia.