Insieme: The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was also celebrated in Ragusa. The appointment was felt and participated and represented an opportunity for spiritual growth and fraternity between churches of different denominations.
Two community moments took place, both in Vittoria: the first, on January 19, in the church Anime Sante del Purgatorio; the second, on January 23, in the Pentecostal Christian church Gospel Forum. The two initiatives were promoted by seven Christian churches: the Catholic Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Lutheran Evangelical Community of Sicily, the Romanian Orthodox Church (Santa Melania parish), the Pentecostal Christian church of Santa Croce Camerina, the Scoglitti New Creation Pentecostal Christian Church and the Gospel Forum Pentecostal Christian Church in Vittoria. The Bishop of Ragusa, Giuseppe La Placa, the Adventist pastor Daniele Passaretta, Father Nicolae Chircos, of the Orthodox Church, Gisela Salomon, of the Lutheran Church, the pastor Giuseppe Micieli, the pastor Giuseppe Decorato, the pastor Giovanna Stallone took part.
This year’s theme, “Learn to do good, seek justice”, taken from the Book of Isaiah, was chosen and prepared by the Council of Christian Churches of Minnesota (United States of America) and the World Council of Churches. Migrants and victims of racism also participated in the preparation of the topics. Minnesota, in fact, has experienced racial discrimination (in 1862 it was the scene of the great mass execution of 38 Dakota indigenous people, in March 2021, a Minneapolis police officer killed the young African-American George Floyd), sparking protests and demonstrations of disapproval and protests across the country.
Vittoria’s two appointments were an opportunity for siblings to share. The reflections, in the two churches, were proposed by the bishop Monsignor La Placa, by the Adventist pastor Daniele Passaretta, by the assistant Pentecostal pastor Mario Bassotto, by the priest Don Salvatore Converso.
Archbishop La Placa said: “In the end God will ask us if we have succeeded in loving, in realizing God’s dream, the dream of unity. Tonight I ask that unity between the churches become the breath of humanity”. Daniele Passaretta said: “If we want to build something we have to demolish the barriers, build with peace. It is Jesus who gives solidity to our project: to realize Christ’s plan: that all may be one”. Mario Bassotto invited us to “open our hearts to the spirit that spreads joy in our hearts and makes us live as brothers”, Don Salvatore Converso compared the unity between the different churches to the work of a musical orchestra, where “different instruments they each perform melodies that make up a single harmony, harmonies that captivate the heart”. Pastor Giovanna Stallone concluded: “We are different, not divided”.
At the opening of the celebration, two pioneers of ecumenism who died recently were remembered: the Pentecostal pastor Antonio Stallone and the Ragusan Peppino Dimartino, one of the founders of Rinnovamento nella Spirito in the diocese. who took the first steps to build fraternity between the different Christian churches.
Of great impact was the testimony of Sister Cristina Budău Roşu, of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters. Since 3 January 2022, the nuns have been present in Marina di Acate, in the heart of the transformed area, where thousands of immigrants who work in greenhouses live, sometimes in conditions of serious housing and social hardship. Sr. Cristina recounted the experience of a gospel lived alongside the least, migrants and especially children. Her words gave substance to the theme of the Week of Prayer, Learn to do good, seek justice and to the proposal of Minnesota Christians to seek justice, help the oppressed and the least, the poorest.
Don Salvatore Converso
“Like a musical orchestra
in which different instruments
they perform each of the tunes
that steal the heart”
(This article was translated from Italian.)
What is an SDA pastor doing at this gathering?
“We have been looking many years for a Sunday law to be enacted in our land; and now that the movement is right upon us, we ask, Will our people do their duty in the matter? Can we not assist in lifting the standard, and in calling to the front those who have a regard for their religious rights and privileges? The time is fast approaching when those who choose to obey God rather than man, will be made to feel the hand of oppression. Shall we then dishonor God by keeping silent while His holy commandments are trodden under foot? While the Protestant world is by her attitude making concessions to Rome, let us arouse to comprehend the situation, and view the contest before us in its true bearings. Let the watchmen now lift up their voice, and give the message which is present truth for this time. Let us show people where we are in prophetic history, and seek to arouse the spirit of true Protestantism, awakening the world to a sense of the value of the privileges of religious liberty so long enjoyed.” Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 5, page 716.