Meeting in Graz to mark the Europe Day, May 7, 2022
The venue was a recently refurbished hall that previously was the refectory of the Franciscan Friar Minors. Now it is the baroque heart of a modern conference Centre in the city centre of Graz. The date was May 7, 2022 and the participants were members of Christian communities from diverse denominations. The purpose was to mark Europe Day and it was organized by Together for Europe.
There were about 130 participants and these came from various places in Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Switzerland. They came together to listen to the Word of God and to share lived-out experiences related to the topic of the conference: “How to overcome divisions”.
The various inputs included:
- A dialogue project in Hungary to deal with controversial political opinions;
- Building trust between refugees and those opposed to their presence;
- Reconciliation of families of victims and executioners 75 years after the Holocaust;
Needless to say, all participants were struck by these and they created the right atmosphere for a lively exchange of ideas in small-group meetings.
The leaders of the Catholic and Protestant Churches, together with those of the Baptist community, had words of encouragement. Friends from Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy who could not be present due to their commitment with refugees, or for health and other reasons, sent their greetings.
After a shared lunch and a guided visit of the city, the afternoon was dedicated to an ecumenical prayer for peace.
All the present difficulties, like the war in Ukraine and in many other parts of the world, the climate crisis, the Covic-19 pandemic, the economic uncertainty… were presented to God. This touching intercession prayer was organized by a family from the Schönstatt Movement.
The participants felt strengthened to fulfil their task in the Church and society by the words from the Letter to the Hebrews: “May the God of peace… equip you with every good thing to do His will” (Hb 13, 20-21).
The meeting was enhanced by the contribution of accomplished musicians who injected the event with a festive and spiritual atmosphere. The participants responded very generously toward a project to help Ukrainian refugees being hosted near the Hungarian border.
In the background of the hall there was an expressive painting of “Jesus feeding the five thousand”, a fitting reminder. The day, which was full of enriching encounters, came to a close with the hymn: “Stay with us Lord, because evening is fast approaching. Stay with us Lord, because it’s getting dark. Stay with us Lord”.
Michael Murg, TfE Graz