Category Archives: {:it}Riunioni{:}{:en}Meetings{:}{:de}Treffen{:}{:fr}Rencontres{:}

Anniversary celebration in Augsburg

Anniversary celebration in Augsburg

Ambassadors of reconciliation and signs of hope. Together for Europe celebrated its anniversary in the Augsburg city hall

300 members from 55 Christian communities and movements from various churches and from 25 European countries were gathered this Saturday to celebrate several important anniversaries: 30 years ago the Berlin Wall fell and a new era of encounter between East and West began for Europe. 20 years ago the ‘Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification’ was signed by representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. On the same day in the afternoon, the first group of leaders from various catholic, evangelical and free church backgrounds came together in Ottmaring – this was when the network Together for Europe was born. Those three events were closely linked for the people present and shaped the ‘pioneering spirit’ of the initiative.

‘You are ambassadors of reconciliation’, encouraged Lutheran Bishop, Ret., Christian Krause. He had co-signed the ‘Joint Declaration’ in 1999 as the then President of the Lutheran World Federation. As one of the witnesses at the time he recalled the many encouraging steps that have been taken in ecumenism through the declaration and since it was made. In the current climate of increasing scepticism of Europe and political polarization, it is precisely this experience of reconciled diversity of the movements and spiritual communities that is needed.

Bertram Meier, the current diocesan administrator in Augsburg, emphasised in the conversation with his Evangelical colleague Regional Bishop Axel Piper the importance of this ability to seek reconciliation. ‘Unity in diversity is also a challenge within the church. It’s about learning to understand each other, not just from the mind, but also from the heart.’ Piper confirmed that it is exactly this effort that also shapes the ecumenical relations in Augsburg: ‘But we must remain curious towards each other, we have to be interested in each other, because we can learn a lot from each other!’

Gerhard Pross, moderator of the ecumenical network, outlined perspectives for the future: it would be important to resist the temptation to develop new organizational structures, but instead to deepen the subject of reconciliation. ‘In times of divergence and tendencies towards demarcation we want to be a prophetic sign for a credible togetherness in Europe.’

In the afternoon, the Czech Senator Pavel Fischer made an important contribution to the socio- political dimension of  Together for Europe. He described a current picture of the commitment to freedom and human dignity in the context of a strongly media-influenced society in Europe. He urged his audience to become active citizens who have the courage to stand up for others, for the weak, to speak out for justice.

At the end of the day, Father Heinrich Walter from the Schoenstatt Movement concluded: ‘Europe needs this positive spirit, because there are already enough messengers of doom!’

Afterwards, the group made its way from the city hall to the Protestant church of St. Anna, where in 1999 the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification had been signed. There the day ended with ecumenical prayer and a candlelight procession. On the square in front of the church, the anniversary celebrations were concluded with songs and a blessing.

Second Conference day in Ottmaring

Second Conference day in Ottmaring

180 participants from 20 countries (with live translation into 5 languages) and 55 different movements and communities from various churches are gathering together in Ottmaring: The place where Together for Europe started 20 years ago.

A participant who only recently came in contact with the network noted: ‘Here, the best in everyone is awoken’.

At the start into the day Andy Pettman guided the participants in a moment of reflection that lead to ‘a response out of thankfulness’. ‘Recognizing the seed in the fruits’ – that became very tangible for everyone in what happened next. Thomas Römer invited each participant to fill paper bags with seeds as a symbol for what has grown out of 20 years of fellowship. These seeds now need to be sowed again in trust and hope.

The next contributions were especially intensive. Sister Nicole explains the power of the ‘prophetic in the precarious’ and Herbert Lauenroth the necessity to become living border crossers ‘across all borders’.

Many moments of exchange – at times in spontaneous small groups in the hall, at times in language groups – are encouraging further growth of the thick family atmosphere among those present.

The afternoon started with a time of getting to know the ‘house of prayer’ in Augsburg through the presence of Johannes Hartl. This was followed by intense conversations to reflect on what has been heard and experienced in the plenum and to feel out next steps for the future.

In the evening, the participants of the conference went to Augsburg, where the Mayor was expecting them for a reception in the ‘Golden Hall’.  A visit of the city centre concluded the eventful day.

See also “Together for Europe turns 20!”>>

The Town Hall of Augsburg – a historical place

The Town Hall of Augsburg – a historical place

20th anniversary of Together for Europe, 7 – 9.11.2019 at Ottmaring and Augsburg

In 2019 Together for Europe returns to Germany: to the ecumenical Centre of Ottmaring/Augsburg where it all started back in 1999. Leaders and representatives of various Movements and Communities belonging to the Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and the Free Churches will meet at a European level to take stock of the situation and plan for the future.

On Friday November 8, 2019 an official reception for the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ will take place at the Town Hall of Augsburg. In This historical place the City wants to honour this international initiative.

The ‘Golden Hall’

The heart of the Town Hall of Augsburg is the ‘Golden Hall’, which was built between 1615 and 1620 by Elias Holl. In virtue of its impressive doorways, paintings and the magnificent lacunar ceiling, the ‘Golden Hall’ was immediately hailed as an apex of internal artistic design. The Hall was so named because of the many golden ornaments that adorn the interior.

Augustan Peace Prize – The Winner of the Inter-Confessional Prize

In the “Golden Hall’, in 1988, on the Feast day of the Augustan Peace, Chiara Lubich was honoured with the Prize for Peace for her commitment in the ecumenical field on a world-wide level.  The prize, which exists since 1985, honours those leading personalities who have given a special contribution toward an open and peaceful cohabitation of culture and religions. Among others it was granted to Rabbi Levinson, Pope Schenuda III of the Coptic Church, the former German Federal President, Richard von Weizsäcker and the former Head of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev. In 2017, this prestigious honour was given to the General Secretary of the World Lutheran Federation, Martin Junge.

Oberer Fletz

On the floor under the ‘Golden Hall’ there is the historical ‘Oberer Fletz’ – a hall with a characteristic style where the Town Council holds its meetings. That is where, on November 9, 2019, the participants of the annual meeting of the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ will converge.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Together for Europe turns 20!

Together for Europe turns 20!

The celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Together for Europe (TfE) involves history, Churches and society in a threefold feast. The Friends of TfE will meet at Ottmaring, Germany, on November 7 – 9, 2019. The program includes a reception in the  City Hall of Augsburg and a day visiting the significant places of the city, like St Anne’s church. All these augur events a new and promising encounter of European peoples.

How come this ‘birthday’ is being celebrated in Germany? The dates say it all!  October 31, 2019, is the anniversary of the historical signing of the Joint Declaration regarding the Doctrine of Justification, which was held at Augsburg, between the Catholic Church and the World Lutheran Federation. On that same day, 20 years ago, the first meeting between Evangelical and Catholic Communities and Movements was held at Ottmaring, and that meeting gave birth to Together for Europe.  Moreover, November 9, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Anniversaries always invite us to give thanks and, at the same time, to look ahead. The program of the Meeting, which is meant to express both these attitudes, will be held at the Ecumenical Centre of Ottmaring, in the City Hall and in St Anne’s church in Augsburg.

After the experience of Prague in November 2018>> and the “Europe Day 2019”>> we would like the Meeting in Germany to result in yet another laboratory where concrete projects in favour of our Continent are proposed.

The first part of the program will take place at the Ecumenical Centre of Ottmaring, and we will start be having a retrospective look: images, witnessing, sharing of experiences of these 20 years of our journeying together, and from these we would then move to seek new perspectives: “To discern the seeds from the fruits”. There would be small groups’ meetings as well as plenary ones, moments of prayer and thanksgiving, and in-depth studies of the guidelines of TfE so as to better understand the contribution we are called to give toward Europe.

With the help of some experts, and in dialogue with them, we will discuss some of today’s challenges: fear, boundaries, and walls.

In the evening of Friday November 8, the Mayor of the City of Augsburg will offer an official reception in the City Hall.

Saturday November 9, the Meeting will continue in the City Hall of Augsburg:

  • 20 years since the Joint Declaration regarding Justification; the evangelical Bishop Christian Krause will speak on History and consequences: what do they mean today?
  • Together for Europe: the fruit of the Joint Declaration; the experience of unity; perspectives; and developments in the individual Countries;
  • Journeying along the pathway toward the one Church of Jesus Christ: A vision for a sole People of God;
  • 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the Iron Curtain throughout the Continent;
  • The present challenges that Europe and unity are facing; Pavel Fisher (Prague).

In St Anne’s church we will pray for Europe in diverse languages. Then, in the Square in front of that church, we will express our thanksgiving with lighted candles, songs, prayers and several brief witnessing.

 

 

The vocation of Ottmaring

The vocation of Ottmaring

VIDEO – INTERVIEW  

Preparations for the celebration of the “20 years of Together for Europe” have been going for some time. The spark that triggered off this original ecumenical-European journey was ignited at the Ecumenical Centre of Ottmaring, just after the signature of the historical joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Augsburg.

Severin Schmid has seen the birth and the growth of this communion, whose “score is written in heaven”. We asked him to tell us how things happened.

Ilona Toth, who comes from Hungary, is presently a member of the Steering Committee of Together for Europe.  In 2018 she participated in the 50th anniversary of Ottmaring. What are her impressions of this ecumenical Centre near Augsburg?

 

Bearers of hope

Bearers of hope

Clarita and Edgardo Fandino, International Directors of the “Teams of Our Lady” Movement live in Bogotá in Colombia. They recently took part in the meeting for “Friends of Together for Europe” in Prague.  We wanted to hear more about their experience.

1) What was your experience of the meeting in Prague for “Friends of Together for Europe”?

It was very moving to actually participate in this initiative which seeks to bring hope to a world that has become secularized, by building on the unity that already exists between several movements and inviting everyone to accept their responsibilities in society and the world – not by becoming isolated but by sharing their particular evangelical gifts.  Personally, we would have liked to get to know more about the particular charisms of the different movements that were present, but we assume that this had already been done at previous meetings and that time restrictions on the programme meant it wasn’t possible this time.  Over the course of the two-day meeting, during breaktimes and in the group discussions, we were able to share experiences with many of those present.  There was a strong atmosphere of respect, fraternity and openness that needs to spread to different areas of life so that we can become real agents of change like the yeast in the dough.

2) As Columbians, how do you see Europe at the moment?

We didn’t take part in the reunion of Together for Europe as Columbians but as the International Directors of the “Teams of Our Lady” Movement which started in France and is currently present in 92 countries across all five continents.  As Columbians we noticed big differences between today’s Europe and today’s America and our native Columbia, of course.  Europe is currently going through a period of secularisation which is much more pronounced than in America and is influenced by waves of crisis and disintegration which together with separatist trends are undermining the institutions and systems currently in place.  Populism with agitators who polarize society and stir up discontent is a problem that has already reached universal dimensions.  Today more than ever it is critical that those of us who profess values of faith become more active in promoting initiatives of change that bring about transcendent values. In the words of Ernesto Sabato, the marvellous writer and critical observer of the world’s realities: “One thing for sure is the conviction that only spiritual values will be able to save humanity from imminent disaster.”

3)  You are the International Directors of the “Teams of Our Lady” Movement and have just concluded an important meeting in Paris.  What future plans and visions emerged from your meeting?

We accepted responsibility for the “Teams of Our Lady” Movement worldwide last July in Fatima, Portugal.  With approximately 9,000 people present from over 70 countries, including 400 priests and bishops, 4,000 couples and 200 widows and widowers, we spent a week together which had the parable of the prodigal son as its theme and the motto: “Reconciliation, a sign of love”. At the end of the meeting we established orientations in the form of a mandate for members of the Movement over the next six years.  Our guiding motto is: “Don’t be afraid.  Let’s go forth…”; it is an invitation to act, to put our vocation and our mission into action, beginning with the specific aspect of our charism: married spirituality.

The meeting that we recently held in Paris with the group of people responsible for the movement internationally was the first of 3 annual meetings and its aim was to understand how the motto of Fatima could be brought to every member of the Movement so that they too could make it a reality in their lives. This is why we established a number of action points to help up face the challenges within and outside the Movement, in conformity with the Church’s and in particular Pope Francis’ invitation to go to the peripheries as agents of mercy.  This appeal is well expressed by the Pope in his recent Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et exultate” (GE 26) It is not healthy to love silence while fleeing interaction with others, to want peace and quiet while avoiding activity, to seek prayer while disdaining service. Everything can be accepted and integrated into our life in this world and become a part of our path to holiness. We are called to be contemplatives even in the midst of action, and to grow in holiness by responsibly and generously carrying out our proper mission.”

Themes we are developing include the art of accompanying widows and widowers, preparing and accompanying young people for matrimony and the first few years of married life, working on other realities of married life such as accompanying adults, listening to young people…etc.

4) Could you tell us something about yourselves, your family, your lives, your work…? “

We are both Columbian and have been married for 32 years.  We have 2 children – a boy of 26 years who recently got married and a daughter of 24 years who still lives with us.  We live in Bogota which is a cosmopolitan city with a population of about 8 million.  Clarita teaches music and catechesis and Edgardo still works as a civil engineer.  We have been members of the “Teams of Our Lady” movement for 22 years which has nourished our married spirituality; we have carried out duties of service in various fields.  We will now be responsible for the Movement all over the world for the next six years.  Our life is divided between Edgardo’s professional work, the work of our “Teams of Our Lady” and the frequent trips required by this role. We are convinced that each one of us has a mission and responsibility in this world to be bearers of hope and to reflect Christ’s love for humanity, making him present in our own environment and the peripheries we have to reach.

Clarita and Edgardo Fandino, Bogotá/Columbia

 

Voices from Prague – part 2

Voices from Prague – part 2

Meeting of “Friends of Together for Europe” at Prague – Short interviews with some of the participants – part 2

“Identity is something what we desperately need!” Pavel Fischer, Senator in the Czech Parliament

“Abbiamo un grande fondamento che ci lega.” Matthias Leineweber, Comunità di Sant’Egidio, Germania

“Pour leur communiquer la beauté”. François Delooz, Communauté de Sant’Egidio, Belgique

“I realised the strength of the Movements.” Pavel Černý, Pastor, Czech Republic

“Europa ist sehr bewegt”. Valerian Grupp, CVJM Esslingen, Deutschland

2° Day TfE at Prague

2° Day TfE at Prague

On the second day of the ‘Together for Europe’ meeting in Prague participants took a closer look at the situation of Christians and churches in the Czech Republic. There were many opportunities for personal exchange and discussion in smaller and larger groups and three major inputs.

Jaroslav Šebek, historian and member of the Institute for History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, spoke about “The Churches in the Czech Republic and the challenges of today’s turbulent time”. The refugee crisis had become a milestone for the future of European integration, where different concepts collide “and in this context we begin to talk about East against West” again, said  Šebek. One of today’s problems is the “encapsulation of communication” that social media present us with. “While during the time of communism we found ourselves in an ‘information desert’,  today we move in a jungle of information’ but the result is the same: “Loss of orientation and a greater susceptibility to manipulation and distrust of everything and everyone.” It is particularly difficult that also the representatives of the Church are looking for orientation at present.

Pavel Fischer, Senator in the Czech Parliament, also described the current situation in the Czech Republic and presented the challenges from a socio-political point of view. He stressed the importance of emotional identification with a personal social experience which arises in concrete linguistic and experiential environments.  The unity of Europe can only be achieved by taking all local identification processes seriously as well as all the individuals we meet. The vision of a united Europe can only emerge if policies respect subsidiarity and respect and promoted the diversity of European peoples, languages and cultures.

Interview “Identity is something what we desperately need!” Pavel Fischer

Interview “Let’s engage on the very local level!” Pavel Fischer

Tomáš Halík, Czech sociologist, philosopher of religion and Roman Catholic priest (Templeton Prize 2014), presented the historical developments of the Czech Church up to the present day as part of his contribution to the religious situation in his home country. It became clear that the attempt of the Church failed to offer the faith they lived in the past to the present time and to the future. Today’s popular traditional Church has lost its strength, because its biosphere increasingly disappears.  Religion has largely lost its influence on the present generation. They live in a new cosmos: the Internet.” The new generation is not ready to welcome religion without being convinced.  Today the Church is challenged to adjust itself above all to those who are searching for meaning. These are, so to speak, part of the largest diocese.” Halík emphatically emphasized: “The future of the Church depends on its willingness to communicate with those who seek and to accompany them.” Faith should not be an ideology that gives precise answers, but accompany those in search of meaning.  And since everyone is looking for meaning, the Church must also be there for everyone, not only for the pious faithful. Halík invited the audience to be courageous and to take seriously those who seek the truth in different ways and to engage in dialogue with them.

The day meeting ended with a time of prayer in which all the reflections and inputs of the day and the future of Europe were brought before God. This was followed by a festive dinner with a cultural programme.

Heinrich Brehm

The enduring legacy of the “Velvet Revolution”

The enduring legacy of the “Velvet Revolution”

Together for Europe 2018 – Prague

Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, a country at the very heart of European culture and history, with pay host from 15th-17th November 2018 to the annual meeting of the Friends of Together for Europe.

The great history of Central Europe, in particular of the Czech nation will serve as a backdrop for a new stage in the journey of Together for Europe, which promotes dialogue between divergent cultural and political identities.

In November 2017 the European meeting of Friends of Together for Europe took place in Vienna, a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe. This year, we will have the opportunity to take another step to the very heart of Central Eastern Europe – Prague, with a singular desire to face challenges, prejudices and fears which weigh on the collective conscience of EU member states and beyond. Through the life of the Gospel, nourished and enlightened by the presence of Christ in the Christian communities, we wish to witness to the fact that the path towards Europe as a House of Nations and a Family of Peoples is not a utopia.

The enduring legacy of the “Velvet Revolution”

On 17th November, the Czech Republic commemorates the anniversary of the “Velvet Revolution” (so called due to its peaceful nature) which transformed the Czech Republic into a co-protagonist for the ongoing process of European reunification. The presence of the Friends of Together for Europe in Prague on this very day, urges us to renew our shared commitment: to bring to a post-secular culture the spirit of Christian Humanism, and in so doing contribute to building a more united Europe.

The renowned Czech Philosopher and Theologian Tomas Halik, friend of the late Vaclav Havel, Jaroslav Sebek of the Historical Czech Academy of Science, and Pavel Fischer an emerging Czech politician, together with leaders and representatives of different Movements, Communities and Associations will be present. Their contributions will reinforce the daring objective of this meeting: to recall a Europe of hope and promise, a Europe which stems from a rich heritage of ethnic, social and cultural diversity and calls out for communion and dialogue.

In this way, the Prague event will become a fundamental phase of Together for Europe which continues its commitment for a more united, brotherly and just Europe. It will also be a unique opportunity to prepare together for the upcoming elections for the European Parliament. The meeting will conclude with an open evening, in which Movements and Communities from different churches and which are present in the Czech Republic will be represented.

Address: Mariapolis Centre, Mladoboleslavská 667, 190 17 Prague 9 – Vinoř, Czech Republic – Tel. +420 286 007 711; Email: cmpraha@espol.cz;  www.centrummariapoli.cz

Beatriz Lauenroth

Foto: Canva

 

Truth prevails

Truth prevails

Europe lives from the ideas it was born from.

In preparation for the upcoming meeting of Friends of Together for Europe, we asked Jiři Kratochvil from Prague and expert in intercultural dialogue the following three questions.

The next appointment of Friends of Together for Europe will take place in Prague, the land of the ‘Hussites’, ‘Prague Spring’ and the ‘Velvet Revolution’. The great history of the Czech nation will become a backdrop to the ensuing dialogue at this meeting. How can we best approach this great history with an aim to understand it better?

It is a troubled history, characterised by great idealistic and spiritual awakenings, by a search for justice and truth which often ended with disappointment and disillusion. This applies to all three historical moments referenced in your question. Firstly, the Hussite movement born from the ashes of Jan Hus who was burned at the stake in 1415, and who was considered by his followers as a martyr for the Truth. Unfortunately, the ensuing wars which bore witness more to power than truth laid waste to the country. Several centuries later, in 1968, in a similar fashion, the main actors of the “Prague Spring”, with what seemed like the whole nation behind them, sought to establish a form of socialism with “a human face”. This new regime strove to shed the lies and cruelty of the previous era. Sadly, this new hope was dashed in the tracks left by the tanks and stagnated into a general collective resignation, which not even the heroically sacrificial gesture of Jan Palach, a student who burned himself alive in protest, was capable of ending.

Finally, the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989 which many of us remember clearly, was carried ahead by the slogan of its main protagonist Vaclav Havel “Love and Truth will overcome lies and hatred”. No one however expected the hard battle that followed. The spiritual values of the first months which were so strongly felt in the mass demonstrations in the squares slowly receded and were replaced by the pragmatism of the “technology of power”.

The flag of the president of the Czech Republic reads “Truth Prevails” however, two words have been left out from the original version of this quotation which was “Truth of God Prevails”. We are certain that His Truth will win at the end of History. However, before that happens, it must be dealt many blows as history, not only Czech history, shows. This does not relieve us of our obligation to always align ourselves to His side, the side of Truth.

“Together for Europe” wishes to contribute to building unity between Eastern and Western Europe, what role does the Czech Republic play in this commitment?

Due to its troubled history, the Czech Republic is a highly secularised country. The majority of the population do not identify with any Church. This does not mean all are atheists however, surprisingly the number of self-declared atheists has been diminishing. There is a strong sensitivity to spiritual and cultural values among young people and the intelligencia. This was demonstrated in 2009, by the warm welcome received by Pope Benedict XVI at the Accademia in Prague. It may have been that very welcome that inspired Benedict to establish the “The Court of the Gentiles”, an initiative aimed at dialogue with the laity.

Christians of different denominations united among themselves and engaging in such a dialogue in its various forms, show one of the ways of building the project of Together for Europe. Secular lay people in the Czech Republic are already leading the way in this dialogue.

Looking ahead, what further challenges await us in reaching our objective – unity?

An extremely difficult question, the answer to which, while not simple, seems logical. People say that every nation lives from the ideas it was born from. This can also hold true for a continent. Let us recall the roots of the Europe in which we all live. In Jerusalem (faith), Athens (reason) and Rome (law). On these strong foundations grew Europe’s cultural, spiritual and material greatness and wealth. Today we face situations of migrations of people similar to those of medieval times. The greatest challenge lies in knowing how to live with the diversity of the new arrivals, of which there will be many. Migratory currents will continue to flow not only for political and economic reasons but also due to the impacts of climate change.

Let us not delude ourselves: Europe as we know it, will sooner or later disappear, also due to decreasing birth rates. As Christians, we need to be that creative minority, returning to the solid foundations of our tradition and to the values it generated, whilst maintaining a sense of openness to new inspirations. Based on these spiritual foundations, asking continuously for the grace of God, we can seek a new unity for this new Europe.

Jiři Kratochvil, born in 1953. Degree in economics obtained in Prague. For many years worked in state owned bodies under the auspices of the Department of Finance. After the fall of communism, he was instrumental in the renewal of the Czech Caritas. He has lived in Canada, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Currently he lives in Prague and works as a translator for the Czech Episcopal Conference.

Photo: Prague: ©Canva; Jiři Kratochvil: private

Slovenia: dialogue among Movements

Slovenia: dialogue among Movements

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

 

A Culture of Togetherness becomes clear

A Culture of Togetherness becomes clear

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”.

See also the detailed report on the German homepage> 

Text and photo: Heinrich Brehm

Juntos por México

Juntos por México

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.

Raffaele Massolin

Vienna Cathedral at the Centre of Europe

Vienna Cathedral at the Centre of Europe

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.”

Video Ecumenical Prayer Vienna (German)>

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

 

 

555th year anniversary

555th year anniversary

“Hidden treasures” in Vienna

555th anniversary on 31st October 2017! What am I talking about? Let me explain: 500 years since Luther’s Reformation, 50 years since I was born and 5 years since I have moved to Austria.

When I realised this coincidence, I wondered how to celebrate the big round anniversary uniting my personal history with the ecumenical one.

I am a Swiss citizen; my mother is reformed and my father Catholic. My siblings and I were baptised into the Reformed Church, but after we went our separate ways. As a child I joined the Catholic Church, hence my strong passion for the unity of Churches. I now live in a Focolare community in Vienna.

Some time ago, in a meeting of consecrated people in the Ecumenical Centre in Ottmaring, attended by the Lutheran Bishop Emeritus Herwig Sturm, I presented a performance on Luther, based on images, spoken word and dance (I am a ballet dancer by profession). It occurred to me, why not celebrate my birthday by offering the same performance to the public?

 

On 29th October, more than 60 people gathered in Am Spiegeln, in the Meeting Centre of the Focolare Movement in Vienna, for my ‘ecumenical birthday show’. Instead of bringing birthday gifts, I asked my guests to offer a contribution towards translations of the meeting of Friends of the ecumenical network Together for Europe which was to take place in the Meeting Centre a few days after my birthday.

What a joyful occasion it has been to bring the money raised through the show to the International Steering Committee of Together for Europe!

Roswitha Oberfeld, Vienna (Austria)

Friends of Together for Europe meet in Vienna

Friends of Together for Europe meet in Vienna

From 9th to 11th November 2017, the Friends of Together for Europe will come together in Vienna, a bridge between Easter and Western Europe, for their annual congress.

A total of 120 participants from around 20 Eastern and Western European countries and 40 Movements are expected to attend. Their main aim will be to pool ideas on three topics:

  1. What culture is generated by the history of Together for Europe?
  2. What is our specific contribution to Europe?
  3. Dialogue between East and West: a mutual enrichment

This network of people embraces all of Europe from England to Russia, from Portugal to Greece. Their shared mission: through the upcoming meeting, to strengthen communion among their individual charisms and build united and multifaceted Europe, with strong social cohesion and cultural diversity.

The meeting will open, on 9th November 2017, in the Stephansdom Cathedral of Vienna, with an Ecumenical prayer for Europe. All those who wish for peace in Europe and in the world, are invited to take part in this moment of prayer.

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Helmuth Kraetzl, Catholic Church, Archpriest Vicar Ivan Petkin, Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Austria, Chorbishop Emanuel Aydin, Syrian Orthodox Church in Austria, Patriarchal Delegate Tiran Petrosyan, Armenian Apostolic Church, Patrick Curran, Archdeacon of the Eastern Archdeaconry of the Anglican Church in Europe, together with all the present will bring before God needs and opportunities of our continent. The intention of the prayer is extremely timely: unity in diversity, peace in justice.

Following personalities will address the gathering: 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.

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The Swiss Coordination team and “the brother” Nicolas of Flue

The Swiss Coordination team and “the brother” Nicolas of Flue

The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, and the 600th of Nicolas of Flue – what do these two commemorations mean to us today? 260 followers of the Swiss network of Together for Europe, belonging to many different Churches, met on 9th of September to reflect together on this topic in the Flueli-Ranft Hall, where “brother Nicola” lived.

“What is the significance of the life and work of Nicola of Flue for us personally, for our Churches, our Communities, and for our network of Together for Europe?” – this was the central question of our convention.

The participants hailed from all parts of Switzerland, representing 30 Christian Movements and Communities. The meeting was planned and organised together by the members of the Swiss TfE Coordination Team (from 10 Movements and Communities).  Since the very beginning of the meeting it became clear that the encounter and mutual exchange of ideas was what everyone came for. The hall soon filled with many enthusiastic groups engrossed in dialogue.

The programme of the meeting varied from four short talks (representing different approaches to the life and work of Nicola of Flue), to a choir specially assembled for the event, a theatrical representation of “brother” Nicola’s prayer, a round table discussion which was profound and well attended.

Pastor Geri Keller and Roland Groebli, both experts on Nicola of Flue, Fr. Raffael Rieger of Schoenstatt, representative of the Swiss TfE Coordination Team, and Alisha Furer, historian and a representative of the youth held the round table which lasted for an hour. Selomie Zuercher of the “Jahu” Community of Bienne, a student of history, chaired this moment of dialogue. Through quotations from brother Nicola, the participants were invited to express their own experiences and limitations: “What stops me from opening up towards people of different denominations or religions? What helps me to do so? Do I have experiences of such “togetherness” to share? These and other inputs were an invitation to fight prejudice and to make the first steps, even in the simple day-to-day gestures, such as, for example in a shared bus journey to work.”

The fascination with brother Nicola is due among other things to his many identities: Nicola the mystic, the mediator, the peasant, the politician, the husband, the father and the spiritual director. In brief: Nicola the man, or brother Nicola, as one who is very close to people, and very close to God.

A variety of participants, drawn in in the first place by their interest for Nicola of Flue, expressed their enthusiasm for having met the network of Together for Europe. As one person said: “Thank you for your commitment to building TOGETHERNESS in Europe! I am also part of it now!”

Written by Elisabeth Reusser

For further information please visit the Swiss web site of Together for Europe: http://miteinander-wie-sonst.ch/miteinander/aktuelles

Welcome to Vienna!

Welcome to Vienna!

WILLKOMMEN, BENVENUTI, WELCOME, VITAJTE, BIENVENUE…

The group „Friends of Together for Europe” will meet in Vienna.

We are looking forward to this being a great, profound, visible, inviting, serene and European event held Together.

The TfE Coordination Team in Vienna has reflected and consulted at length with the International Steering Committee in preparation for this meeting. Our focus recently has been preparations for the opening of the meeting on 9th November in St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) which will take the format of an ecumenical prayer. We have picked a location in the centre of Vienna and have invited public figures to attend. The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Schönborn has confirmed his participation while the mayor of Vienna issued an invitation to an “Agape” to follow after the liturgy.

“9th November, Stephansdom – you are coming, aren’t you?” – everyone we speak to is eagerly looking forward to the event.

Will we succeed in filling the Stephansdom Cathedral? We entrust this aspiration in the spirit of what Chiara Lubich used call: “The music sheet already written in heaven”.

Coordination Team of TfE, Vienna 


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Courage, Europe!

Courage, Europe!

Friends of Together for Europe: From 10th to 12th November 2016, 129 participants from 13 European countries met in the International Formation Centre of the Focolare Movement in Castel Gandolfo (Rome). There were eight languages represented, with simultaneous interpreting provided for four of these. The representatives of 39 Movements and Communities shared – as one said – “a small miracle of Pentecost”.  

All participants whether leaders or representatives of the Movements, expressed continued gratitude and joy for the Together for Europe events in Munich (June-July 2016). The participants shared their conviction that, after the Paris attacks one year ago which happened while the Friends were meeting in Holland, after Brexit, the news of which arrived shortly before the Munich TfE international congress and rally, and after the challenging outcome of the US elections just a few days ago, Together for Europe is needed today more than ever!

At this time we ask ourselves pressing questions: what will the future journey of Together for Europe be like? Which practical steps will be required to be taken by individual Movements and Communities as well as on a national level and within Together?

The meeting was characterised by numerous suggestions and proposals to this end which were developed in talks, individual meetings and working groups yielding various ideas to plan for 2017. Two of these are as follows:

  • 25th March 2017 will be the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, considered one of the single most important events of the process of European integration. Important political figures will meet on that occasion in Rome’s Campidoglio, seat of the Italian Government. The network Together for Europe will show its presence at an evening vigil, to be held the night before the event, with hopefully similar vigils held in other European cities where TfE is represented. It also intends to present to politicians gathered in Campidoglio a document outlining TfE’s vision of Europe;
  • A new desire for “creating places to meet” was expressed. As a part of the programme for 2017 we would like to increase communion among Movements at the local level and relaunch the “Programme for the City“.

Below is some feedback gathered during and after the meeting:

Elke Pechmann (Offensive Junger Christen OJC eV.): “Together for Europe is not a luxury, it is not something ‘extra’, but rather a significant investment in the present and future of Europe.’’

Larisa Musina (Transfiguration Fellowship of Minor Orthodox Brotherhoods, St. Philaret, Moscow): “In order to become real friends, we need to get to know each other well. We will broaden dialogue between countries of Eastern and Western Europe. Along with other Eastern European countries Russians have much to offer to Western Europe.”

Pavel Snoj (Focolare Movement, Slovenia): “We will update the other Movements on our return to Slovenia about this meeting. We will take this opportunity to invite two bishops (a Catholic and a Lutheran one) so that they can see that lay people along with the Churches in Europe are getting organised to help bring about a better future for our continent.”

Selomi Zürcher (JAHU, Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the youth of her working group: “We feel that the future of Europe concerns us. We appreciate the experience and wisdom of adults present. In turn we ask them to have faith in us and a willingness to learn from us, so that the Europe of our fathers can also become Europe of the children.”

Constanze Wolf (Focolare Movement, Germany): “I am looking forward to sharing my enthusiasm for Together to other young people. I started spreading the word about it in the parish and at work and I hope that next year in Vienna, at this annual meeting, there will be even more of us.”

Summing up: now more than ever, the experience of reconciliation and friendship offered by the people of Together for Europe is necessary, so that through it, it becomes possible to discover how to play on Earth – as Chiara Lubich said – the “music scores written in heaven.“

The next meeting of the Friends of Together for Europe will take place from 9th to 11th November 2017 in Vienna.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Europe through the eyes of young people

Europe through the eyes of young people

Europe… Light and shadow… and a lot to offer.

An evening with a group of young people from all over the world in the headquarters of the International Secretariat of Together for Europe

At the end of April, eight university students some newly graduated, came to spend an evening with us, the Secretariat Team. They arrived with great anticipation and openness as well as with a sense of determination and an awareness that any serious discussion on Europe today requires a level of commitment. The evening started with sampling of a variety of tasty national specialities (Hungary, Slovak Republic, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines) which had been prepared by the students and brought with some Italian pizza. The students surprised and enriched us with their views on Europe, in which neither light nor shadow were missing. They showed a great interest in the upcoming Event in Munich “Encounter. Reconciliation. Future.” They were also enthusiastic about any opportunity to help and enable Europe’s rich tradition and culture to be put to full use, and become source of inspiration both in their respective countries and for the whole of humanity.

Looking over the draft programme for Munich, they asked to listen to some of the music which will be featured by different groups that will perform in the city square on 2nd of July 2016. One of the songs that stood out as particularly significant for them was entitled “Wir sind eins“ (“We are one“) > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4zX98_Sr4s

In the days leading up to Munich our young friends will support the Event in different ways. They have promised to let their friends and acquaintances know about it and spread the invitation through the Social Media channels that they use.

Whilst in July some of them will be in their home countries, others – Marcos, Marie and Szabina – are planning to come to Munich to join us in actively building Europe of today.

Team of the International Secretariat of Together for Europe

 

Meeting of “Friends of Together for Europe” 2015

Meeting of “Friends of Together for Europe” 2015

The annual meeting of “Friends” was held at the Mariapolis Centre of Mariënkroon at Nieuwkuijk (Olanda), from 12 to 14 November.

The 101 participants (from 39 movements and communities and 12 European countries) worked together on various aspects of Munich 2016”: the Congress at the Circus Krone Bau (30 June to 1 July) and the public manifestation at Karlsplaz – Stachus (2 July)

You can find a general presentation of the event in the Brochure on this site. More detailed information about the Congress for representatives of movements and communities can be found in the flyer, also on this site. More details about the manifestation on 2 July will be added as they become available.

The photos in the gallery show the atmosphere and the level of commitment and collaboration during our days at Mariënkroon, and the deep sharing with our “Friends” from France, who were with us at the time of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

edited by international secretariat

Netwerkavond international leaders meeting  11/2015

Netwerkavond international leaders meeting 11/2015

Geplaatst 8 okt. 2015 16:10 door Enno Dijkema  

SAMEN VOOR EUROPA INTERNATIONAL LEADERS MEETING
NETWERK AVOND
Vrijdagavond 13 november 2015

CONFERENTIECENTRUM MARIËNKROON, NIEUWKUIJK

De jaarlijks terugkerende international leaders meeting van Samen voor Europa vindt dit jaar in Nederland plaats. Op vrijdagavond 13 november wordt de meeting opengesteld voor vrienden in het Nederlandse netwerk van Samen voor Europa. De genodigde deelnemers maken kennis met Samen voor Europa en haar internationale leiders van circa 15 verschillende landen van Rusland tot Ierland en Zweden tot Portugal, behorende tot zeer uiteenlopende christelijke bewegingen en organisaties.

Recente gebeurtenissen rondom Griekenland en de opvang van vluchtelingen laten zien dat het concept van Europa en van de Europese samenwerking kampt met een gebrek aan een gemeenschappelijk ideaal en gedeelde waarden als solidariteit en onderling vertrouwen. Welke rol spelen we als christenen van verschillende kerken, bewegingen en organisaties in het hedendaagse Europa?

Is het voldoende ons te beperken tot Nederland als missiegebied of is het in deze tijd nodig om dwarsverbanden te smeden over de grenzen heen? Zijn we ons bewust van de sterke onderlinge vervlechting van onze geschiedenissen en van de gemeenschappelijke christelijke basis daarvan? Ook vandaag is de ontwikkeling van Nederland niet meer los te zien van de invloed van andere landen in ons continent.

Onder de naam ‘Samen voor Europa’ werken sinds 2004 meer dan 200 zelfstandige christelijke bewegingen, gemeenschappen, netwerken en organisaties op Europees, nationaal en lokaal niveau samen. Tot deze groeperingen behoren protestante, katholieke, orthodoxe en anglicaanse christenen alsook leden van vrije kerken en gemeenten.

In Planina (Slovenia) friends of Together for Europe

In Planina (Slovenia) friends of Together for Europe

Excerpts from an update letter about their annual meeting and promotion of a European Event in 2016 in Munich, Germany.

In Planina, Slovenia, from November 13 to 15, 2014, 108 representatives of 41 Movements and Communities from 14 Nations have experienced an intense and constructive meeting where it was felt a renewed passion to collaborate on a project for a more united Europe.

Main theme of the meeting was the organization of an Event in Munich (Germany), June 30 to July 2, 2016, consisting of two parts: the Congress in Zirkus-Krone-Bau and the Outdoor Rally in a large square. Everybody felt the importance of feeling immediately engaged, so that the Outdoor Rally might be the fruit of life in the cities, marked by a significantly large participation.

The main focus of the Event should be a noteworthy act of reconciliation, expression of a strong yearning for unity. Together for Europe can be a driver in this direction, on account of the ongoing multiple experiences lived throughout the Continent, particularly between people of different Churches. For this reason, the 2016 Event could also be seen as a milestone in the journey towards 2017 (500th anniversary of Luther’s reformation), offering a prophetic sign of a reconciled and united Europe.

The Congress

Will take place from Thursday June 30 to July 1, 2016 in Zirkus-Krone-Bau in Munich, 2,500 seats. The leaders of about 300 Movements, which adhere to Together for Europe, are invited to attend.

The Congress wants to be a privileged occasion to renew the thrust of our Movements and Communities to work for a more harmonious, respectful and supportive Europe, developing projects which will be donated in the square Rally, on July 2.

The Congress will be held in plenary, along with about 15 – 20 forums to allow for dialogue among Movements and Communities about current issues, as well as round tables which will deal with some of the challenges posed by our society, with the help of “experts” from the cultural, political, sports, artistic worlds, etc…

The Outdoor Rally

Will take place on July 2, 2016, in a large square in the Munich centre. The idea is to gather in the morning according to language groups, in various nearby Churches and Institutions, and then march all towards the square around 11.30 am, where we will carry on with the main program (about 90 minutes). This will include short speeches, symbolic gestures, and testimonies. After a break for lunch, we will continue with a “creative program” of about two hours.

On the basis of the experiences of sharing and collaboration lived in the midst of sectarian and nationalistic tendencies present nowadays across Europe, we wish to offer an example of unity in diversity, by offering mainly testimonies of reconciliation, fruits of our daily experiences, lived in our own Communities together with other Movements present in various cities: experiences of “reconciled cultures” apt to build the future in a responsible way.

We would like to involve all European Nations (from North to South, from East to West), the Churches and the different generations. With this goal in mind, we invite everybody not to let any “inspiration” drop aside and put to good fruition ideas and personal acquaintances.

In order to develop and implement these lines, it is vital that until 2016 relations in all cities where Together for Europe is present become stronger. Concretely, we must support a path of reconciliation in the cities, accompanied by a journey of prayer. It is important to be resolved to go to Munich not to receive, but to give. Each bringing his own, it will be the whole that will make possible for the European conscience to recover and grow. In a dynamic reality, we want to give perspective to a European dimension not closed in itself, but open to others.

With the intent to prepare the whole Event together, admin@together4europe.org is at everybody’s disposal to furnish any information, material, etc. that might be needed, as well to receive any suggestions about the form and content of the Event.

Moreover, whoever wishes to also help cover the organization costs can make wire transfers to the account of Together for Europe using the following data:
IBAN code: IT37O0335901600100000113319; SWIFT: BCITITMX771
Country: Italy; Bank name: Banca Prossima; Account owner: PAMOM
Transfer title: “Contribution to the Event Munich 2016”.

A brochure in various languages (diversified according to the needs of the countries) is being worked on, as we aim to reach a significant participation, entrusted to each one’s initiative.

Timely updates and practical information for participation in the Outdoor Rally can be found on this site.

Friends of “Together for Europe” in Paris

Friends of “Together for Europe” in Paris

From 7th-9th November the “Friends” of “Together for Europe” gathered in Paris for their annual meeting. One hundred and twenty five leaders of 46 movements and communities of different Churches and 13 European countries – from Russia to Portugal , Denmark to Slovenia, were present at the meeting which took place in the historic setting of Montmartre.

The theme that had been chosen was: “Yes” to the poor and marginalized, as was expressed in the message of Stuttgart 2007.

The many contributions revealed how much the Communities and Movements are linked to the commitment to and with the most needy. It is not just acts of solidarity, but of friendship and brotherhood.

An intense moment was spent with Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche Community. He opened the gift of his experience with these words: “Jesus says: “The kingdom of God is like a wedding feast” – but everyone is too busy – and the king who had issued the invitations sends his servants to seek the crippled and the lame in the hedgerows and at the crossroads – this is what I have tried to live in my life.” Jean Vanier is dedicated in particular to the mentally handicapped “the people most oppressed.” “They have changed me, I have seen that the Kingdom of God is theirs.” There are now 140 communities, ecumenical and interreligious, in which “fragile and strong” live together.

The prayers of Catholics and Evangelicals, which introduced the work of the first two days, were followed by that of the Russian Orthodox with its choir .

In the days of lively exchange on the path taken so far by Together for Europe, with the big events in Stuttgart 2004 and 2007 and in Brussels in 2012, thought was given to what could be the next step to take. Recalling the expression of Chiara Lubich, “the score is written in heaven” you could sense in the reciprocal listening to one another that the most valuable experience of this journey together is the deep communion that has developed between Movements of different churches. And it is precisely this “common witness of Christians” which has led to initiatives that Europe needs today, in the political and social fields, “so that the world may believe.”

At the same time, a further contribution is foreseen for 2016, in the form of a congress, which will probably take place in a city in Germany, in order to make visible the path of communion so far.

There was an solemn atmosphere when the new stage was entrusted to God in prayer and the commitment of mutual love renewed.

In May 2014, the Steering Committee will meet again in Dillingen in Germany to receive the prestigious “St. Ulrich European Award” which is 2014 has been awarded to “Together for Europe”.

In Paris there was also a chance to live the “culture of visiting each other”: we went to the Chapel of the metro station in Montparnasse, which is entrusted to the Community of Sant’Egidio , to pray together and learn about their work in the heart of Paris.

And even before the beginning of the meeting, there were those who went to meet the Emmanuel Community, founded by Pierre Goursat e Martine Laffitte-Catta, and those who visited the headquarters of Acer-Mjo (Russian Students’ Christian Action – Orthodox Youth Movement).

Gabri Fallacara

The culture of encounter creates communion

The culture of encounter creates communion

The Steering Committee of Together for Europe meets to reflect on future plans after the third international event: Together for Europe in May 2012.

The Committee made up of eight members including the Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical-Lutheran Churches met at the Saint Egidio Community headquarters in Rome on 4thJune, 2013. The main purpose of this meeting was to discuss the fruits of the past year and try to understand together the next step to take. As Chiara Lubich liked to say, trying to see “the score written in heaven.”

In many of the 152 cities linked up on 12th May, 2012 a dynamic collaboration among local movements and communities of various Churches took place. In several countries, there is a national Together for Europe committee which acts as a network that continually encourages dialogue. Andrea Riccardi (founder of the Community of Saint Egidio), quoting Pope Francis, emphasized the responsibility to continue to go out and avoid being self-referential. It is the “culture of encounter” – emphasized Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement also quoting Pope Francis – “the culture of friendship and openness to others that we experience on this journey of communion that gives hope to our continent and beyond.” Returning from a trip to Germany, Maria Voce tells of meetings with important personalities who see Together for Europe as a way of uniting hearts.

Gerhard Pross, YMCA, told, how at the Catholic Academy of Stuttgart-Hohenheim, representatives of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the Catholic Church and other churches met, on the 23rd May, 2013 thanks to the invitation of some movements and communities connected with Together for Europe.

Nikolaus Schneider, Chair of EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany), Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (President of the German Bishops’ Conference), Bishop Gerhard Feige, the regional evangelical bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan, Serafim, in their speeches, encouraged an open and intense exchange on ecumenical issues particularly timely for the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and in view of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Some topics emerged:
the return to Christ as the centre point of what unites us, the re-elaboration of our common history at a local and national level that show signs of reconciliation and the importance of raising awareness to the sensitivity of the other Churches.

Rev. Christophe D’Aloisio (SYNDESMOS) presented an interesting vision of some of the Orthodox communities in Europe.
The meeting had a full agenda.
Look at the “existential suburbs/outskirts”: this is one of the priorities.

On the morning of June 5th, cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity met the Steering Committee of Together for Europe: he encouraged their projects.