“Welcome to you all gathered here in the Graz Town Hall for our meeting on Europe Day!” This was the way we planned to welcome the participants on Saturday, May 9, 2020. However, Covid-19 disrupted all our plans.
Therefore, toward the end of March, our regional team of Together for Europe decided to postpone the meeting for next year, and to offer a simple substitute program via Skype.
The video conference call of Together for Europe, Saturday May 9, 2020
Nevertheless, the ‘makeshift solution’ resulted in an hour-long online meeting with about 100 participants from Austria and five other neighbouring Countries. The participants included Christians belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church and Communities of the Free Churches.
Brief inputs from Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Carinthia provided an updated and authentic insight regarding daily life during the Covid-19 crisis. All the participants were grateful that they could mutually share their experiences and thus become aware of how others are living in their respective Countries. Thus means that, now, they can pray even better for each other.
The diocesan Bishop Wilhelm Krautwaschl, too, took part in this online meeting. He thanked for this experience of communion that goes beyond borders, and concluded by saying “In spite of our differences and separations, through the Cross we are all united one to the other”.
Plans for May 8, 2021…
Naturally, a video conference call cannot take the place of a Day Meeting. Yet, in the present circumstances, by the way this Europe Day 2020 was lived out, Together was strengthened. It was, indeed, a successful preparation for the Day Meeting scheduled for May 8, 2021, when we could, hopefully, truly say: “Grüß Gott hier im Rathaus Graz …!” – “Welcome to Graz Town Hall!”.
The Together for Europe Team, Austria.
On February 27, we updated you about the intensive preparations being carried out by the local team of Together for Europe to mark the Europe Day with an international event in Graz (Austria). Although, due to the pandemic a Plan B is now needed, this did not prevent those persons to keep going ‘together’ to start preparing for 2021. And they will do so with a Skype Conference call on May 9.
This is what Theresia Fürpass, of the organizing team wrote to us:
“The idea behind the event to mark the Europe Day on May 9, 2020 – “Together for Europe – Meeting in Graz” – was to promote the encounter of Austrians, Italians, Slovenians, Croatians and Hungarians. Read more>>
We were planning to have an in-depth approach to the theme of dialogue; to exchange experiences resulting for the ‘7 Yeses’ of Together for Europe; to offer a guided tour of Graz, and to conclude the day with an ecumenical prayer meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has made all this impossible. Nonetheless, we still want to keep on journeying together seeing that a lot has been already done. Therefore, we are planning to hold this meeting in 2021.
An yet, it would be a great pity if we were to allow the Europe Day to pass without any sign of celebration! Thus, we invite all those who were planning to participate at “Together for Europe – Meeting in Graz” to join us for a Skype Conference all on May 9, from 10 to 11 a.m. Many have already confirmed their participation. Some of us will give an update regarding the present situation in their Country and we shall conclude by praying together the ‘Our Father’.
We are more than convinced that God will show us the way forward. So far, he has guided us in an impressive way, and has made it possible for us to achieve much more than we could have ever imagined”.
The Team of TfE in Austria
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“Visiting one another, talk to each other, being a gift one for the other and praying together”. The preparations for the Feast of Europe (May 9, 2020) in the Austrian city of Graz have been going on for months. The team of Together for Europe in Styria extends its invitation for an open and international Meeting.
On the occasion of the Feast of Europe (May 9, 2020) the Friends of Together for Europe from Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary will come together in the Town Hall of Graz. The meeting will give persons coming from Eastern and Western Europe the opportunity to meet and know each other. With the aim of facilitating the sharing between the participants, there will be a keynote speech about dialogue.
Several Movements and Communities of Together for Europe will share how they live out marriage and family life, the economy, the safeguarding of life and creation, civic responsibilities, etc, as Christians. They would indicate pathways for an ever more liveable Europe.
The guided tours of the city will enhance the participants’ encounter with Austria and among themselves. During the concluding ecumenical prayer meeting in the Landhaushof the pressing issues that Europe is facing will be entrusted to God through thanksgivings and prayers. The program will be enriched with musical performances.
The detailed program:
- 8.30 a.m. Arrivals, coffee and cakes
- 9.00 a.m. Greetings by the mayor Dr. Siegfried Nagl, Dr Anna Hollwäger, Superintendent Wolfgang Rehner and others
- 9.30 a.m. Prof. Dr Petra Seinmair-Pösel: “A conversation that unites us all“. The importance of dialogue for Europe
- 10.30 a.m. Break
- 11.00 a.m. Life experiences regarding the following realities:
– Marriage and family life
– Solidarity with the poor
– Civic responsibilities
– Safeguarding life
– Safeguarding creation
– A commitment for peace
– Economy at the service of the human person
- 12.00 noon. Lunch offered by the city of Graz
- 1.30 p.m. Guided tours of the city in these languages: German, Italian, Croatian, Slovenian and Hungarian.
- 3.30 – 4.00 p.m. Concluding ecumenical prayer meeting in the courtyard of the palace “Landhaushof”.
Bookings are to be made not later than Sunday April 26, 2020.
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The team of Together for Europe in Styria
Download the invitation (in German):
Photo: Pixabay, Map: by Tschubby – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0
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)
Different important events are taking place from 19 March to 5 May at various locations in the Austrian capital. The aim is to give citizens and parliamentarians the opportunity to discuss politics together in a constructive way in view of the forthcoming European elections.
What do our friends in Vienna have in their hearts?
“The current problems regarding the politics, economics and structure of the European Union concern all of us. As members of Together for Europe we feel compelled to add our voices to the debate on the continent’s future by putting in practice “our vocation for unity and our Culture of Togetherness”. We are convinced that the gift of “unity in diversity” we received in the moving process of reconciliation is God’s response to the needs of our time. With this confidence we wish to invite citizens, experts and Members of the European Parliament to dialogue together and bear positive witness to the politics of reconciliation and solidarity.”
The topics selected for discussion are very stimulating:
- Erasmus – shaping Europe
- Judaism in Europe today – old and new anti-Semitism
- Migrants and the homeland
- “Word and bread” – the social dimension
The conclusive evening will be celebrated on 11 April in the “House of the European Union” where amongst other things we will collect and present messages from the various political and ecclesiastical representatives who were present at the different meetings.
An ecumenical service of prayers for Europe will be held on 5 May in a church in the city centre.
Each meeting will have a different format and be held at a different location. There will be different movements and experts, different topics for discussion and different ways to get involved but beneath it all is a shared desire not to miss the opportunity to say: TOGETHER we can!
Let us pray that many others will be inspired by Vienna’s example.
Taken from the invitation: A Prayer for Europe (Carlo Maria Martini)
Father of mankind, Lord of History,
Look upon this continent to which you sent
philosophers, lawgivers and people endowed with wisdom,
precursors of that faith in your Son, fallen and risen.
Look at these people evangelized by Peter and Paul,
by prophets, monks and saints.
Look at these regions drenched in the blood of martyrs,
moved by the voice of reformers.
Look at these people linked by so many bonds and ties,
yet divided by hatred and war.
Assist us in committing ourselves to a Europe of the Spirit
founded not just on economic treaties,
but also on values which are human and eternal;
a Europe capable of ethnic and ecumenical reconciliations,
quick to welcome the stranger, respectful of human dignity.
Give us confidence to see it as our duty
to encourage and promote understanding between peoples,
which provides for all continents justice and bread,
liberty and peace.
Download the invitation here (available only in German)
We have experienced many times that European unity is not a utopia and does not solely depend on institutions. European unity is generated through encounters between people: encounters without prejudices, with a willingness to uncover the riches in the other which brings us to discover, surprisingly, our own identity in deeper way.
That is what happened on 3rd June during the visit of Ljubljana (Slovenia) by sixteen representatives of Together for Europe from the Styria and Carinthia regions of Austria. The guests were members of different Ecclesial Movements and Communities such as Schoenstatt Movement, Focolare Movement, Charismatic Renewal, Freie Christengemeinde and Kloster Wernberg.
The visit began with a morning tour of the historical centre of Ljubljana led by a cultural expert, Silvester Gaberscek. A typical Slovenian picnic followed with fifteen members of different Slovenian Movements and Communities. There were beautiful moments of brotherly and sisterly friendship among the participants that gave a taste of what a united Europe could look like.
The visit continued with a programme in one of the local halls with a meeting which opened with some traditional Slovenian songs. The participants introduced themselves and shared their spiritual experience as well as their commitment and concrete initiatives in different areas (such as refugee welcome, youth initiatives aimed at citizen bonding, pro-family referendum initiatives). There were also moments of prayer as well as musical interludes. The Austrian guests asked to learn how to sing a prayer in Slovenian. We all felt encouraged and full of enthusiasm to keep working for unity in Europe.
That evening we parted mutually enriched and with the intention to meet as often as possible. We are delighted to have that opportunity next November in Prague.
Mariana and Pavel Snoj, Coordinators of Together for Europe in Slovenia
Place of origin: countries of Europe. Shared objective: reconciled unity among different Churches and cultures, solidarity and European integration.
From 9th to 11th November 2017 in Vienna (Austria), the annual conference of ecumenical network Together for Europe (TfE) took place, with 130 participants from 44 Movements, Communities and Associations.
They met to reflect upon the past, present and future of their ‘togetherness’. “What we need is an action through dialogue,” said Ilona Tóth, member of the Steering Committee of TfE, on 29th October 2017 following the COMECE meeting in Rome entitled ‘(Re)thinking Europe’, “that is look at issues together and together seek solutions”. This is precisely what they did in Vienna.
Ecumenical Prayer for Europe
On 9th November, the conference participants met in the Stephansdom, the Catholic Cathedral of Vienna, for a prayer presided by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn who was also joined by a sizable group of ecclesial authorities and a few hundred faithful. The solemn prayer of Together for Europe for togetherness between cultures and generations and for peace was very well received. The date of the event carries a meaning in itself: following 9th November 1938 (Night of Broken Glass) and 9th November 1989 (fall of the Berlin Wall), the ecumenical prayer held on 9th November 2017 represents a significant moment on the path of Together for Europe and a sign of peace for Europe. See article, photos and video>
Exchange of views at the conference
In the following days, prayers and lectures as well as a lively exchange of views set the tone for the programme.
Fr. Heinrich Walter (Schoenstatt Movement) spoke of the eighteen-year history of Together for Europe. “On deep roots a fertile tree of unity for Europe is growing,” he said, as he reminded the conference of the year 1999, when Christian Communities, Movements and Association belonging to different Churches started working together in the context of the celebration of the ‘Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification’ in Augsburg.
Gérard Testard (Efesia, France) clearly and succinctly spoke about the crises and hopes in Europe today.
Gerhard Pross (YMCA Esslingen) then spoke of a ‘Europe at stake’. “Our ‘togetherness’ is a prophetic message, which marks the culture of Together for Europe”. Pross recalled the seven Yes-statements proclaimed by the network… “We say Yes to a Europe to which God has entrusted a vocation in the course of history: the togetherness of heaven and earth, of faith and shaping of the world: for heaven and earth meet in the crucified one.”
Pál Tóth (Focolare Movement Hungary) looked at the future of Together for Europe in his contribution entitled “A culture of encounter and dialogue between East and West,” followed by a well-attended panel discussion with participants from the Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Russia. Communication scientist Tóth pointed out some differences between the Eastern/Central European countries and the West of Europe and put forward a daring proposal: “Together for Europe can increasingly become a platform for dialogue, or rather a school of inter-European dialogue.” “Under the headline of equality and mutual recognition a kind of wisdom discourse might emerge in which misery and shortcomings can be viewed from the view point of redemption and resurrection.”
Where do we go from here?
There were numerous reflections in plenary sessions and in language groups, in which each participant was asked to actively contribute in the course of the actions his/her own opinion and experience.
On the last day, Thomas Roemer (YMCA Munich) and Sr. Vernita Weiss (Schoenstatt Movement) asked: “Now, where do we go from here?” After having prayed together to the Holy Spirit, the assembly decided almost unanimously to intensify encounters and mutual visits among Movements and Countries, and to strengthen the spirit of living ‘togetherness’. Another idea came from Jeff Fountain (Robert Schuman Centre, the Netherlands) and the Together for Europe group from Rome, who suggested using the date of 9th May – which in many countries marks Europe Day – to spread the message of ‘togetherness’ in local actions.
At the end, the gathering renewed its pact – a solemn promise of mutual love. With it they pledged before God their shared commitment and asked for courage and confidence to go ahead.
The next meeting of ‘Friends’ of Together for Europe aimed at furthering dialogue between East and West of Europe will take place in Prague (Czech Republic) from 15th to 17th November 2018. Together we set out on a path to a promising future.
Download and read some of the contributions:
|Gérard Testard_The political situation of Europe_Nov 10, 2017 Vienna||17 November 2017|
|Gerhard Pross_Europe is challenged_Nov 10, 2017 Vienna||17 November 2017|
|Pál Tóth_Culture of encounter and the dialogue_Nov 10, 2017 Vienna||17 November 2017|
|Fr Heinrich Walter_Fruits of Together for Europe_Nov 10, 2017 Vienna||17 November 2017|
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
“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)
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:
- What culture is generated by the history of Together for Europe?
- What is our specific contribution to Europe?
- 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.
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
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.
“Christians’ hope for Europe” is the subtitle for the evening gathering at the YMCA’s Hall of Fame, Vienna, February 11th, 2016
Introducing the evening’s welcoming address, the piano and saxophone performance conveyed an immediate sense of enthusiasm and professionalism. In her address, the host Sascha Becker (YMCA), transmitted the spirit underlying the Together for Europe events in Stuttgart in 2004 and 2007 and invited the audience to the upcoming event “Munich 2016”.
The theme of the evening was modeled on the question Jesus asked of his wavering disciples: Why are you afraid? (Matthew 8:26) Whilst the “boat of Europe” rocks amidst a storm of discouragement and resignation, the contribution offered by Together for Europe to help face the current challenges of our continent was summed up by the subtitle of the evening “Christians’ hope for Europe”. Pastor Eduard Griesfelder’s illustrated the point further in his talk entitled “Ways of Reconciliation – Round Table – Austria” which spoke of a meeting among free Churches and Communities of diverse traditions and the acknowledgment they received from the Austrian State.
The picture of a recurring failure of politics in the face of the inevitable influx of refugees was painted with openness and sincerity by Heinz K. Becker, MEP. As spokesman for matters of Security for his fraction of the European Parliament Mr. Becker acknowledged the concerns of many, whilst observing how: “Christian values such as availability and solidarity are becoming increasingly valued”.
Examples were offered of how this can translate into practice helping politics and civil society work together, by the deputy mayor as well as by an active citizen with whom she collaborates and by a refugee from Eichgraben.
At the end of the event, the stage resounded with the hopeful feedback of participants. The meeting concluded with a moment of prayer expressing the hopes and concerns of the participants as well as their gratitude for the experience of being Together.
Herwig Sturm – Coordination team of Together for Europe for Vienna and Austria
Der internationale ökumenische Kongress von “Miteinander für Europa”, verbunden mit einer öffentlichen Kundgebung, findet vom 30. Juni bis 2. Juli in München statt. Bischof i.R. Herwig Sturm (Evangelische Kirche A.B.) und Chiarina Marent (Fokolar-Gemeinschaft) gehören der österrichischen Koordinationsgruppe dieser europaweiten Initiative an. Sie geben einen Ausblick auf die kommende Großveranstaltung in München und vermitteln einen Einblick in die Anliegen von “Miteinander für Europa” auf geistlicher und politischer Ebene.
27. April 2016
Wir erleben in unseren Kirchen und Gemeinschaften, dass Einheit in Verschiedenheit möglich ist. Mit diesen Erfahrungen wollen wir auch in die Gesellschaft hineinwirken, um Trennungen und Vorurteile zu überwinden. Versöhnung ist unsere Hoffnung und unser Weg.
Wir, das Netzwerk Miteinander für Europa, laden ein zu Begegnung und Gesprächen mit Heinz Karl BECKER, Abgeordneter zum Europäischen Parlament, mit „Weg der Versöhnung“, Bürgermeister und Flüchtlinge aus NÖ.
Donnerstag, 11. Februar 2016, 19:00 bis 21:00 Uhr im Festsaal des CVJM (Christlicher Verein Junger Menschen), Kenyongasse 15, 1070 Wien
Runder Tisch Österreich – "Weg der Versöhnung" – Pastor Eduard Griesfelder
"Europa – Kontinent der Hoffnung" - BECKER Heinz Karl, MEP
"Europa konkret" – Bürgermeister und Flüchtlinge aus NÖ
"Was macht mir Hoffnung" – Plenum "Gebet für Europa"
Musik Trio: Klavier, Saxophon, Cello Agape