WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
JANUARY 18–25, 2022

WELCOME: Invitation

2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Each year, Christians around the world joyfully recall the prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of John, 17:21, “That they all may be one.” This prayer bears witness to the communion of the Blessed Trinity within the Godhead as extending to the grace of unity and peace among those joined to Christ in baptism. This grace fulfills the mystery of unity in the Holy Spirit among all who bear the name Christian.

The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, conceived by Servant of God Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, in partnership with the Reverend Spencer Jones of the Church of England, was first observed in the United States January 18-25, 1908 at Graymoor in Garrison, NY by the little Episcopal Franciscan religious community of Sisters and Friars called the Society of the Atonement. Fr. Paul had joined with Mother Lurana White, SA in founding the Society of friars and sisters in 1898. The little group of Franciscans believed strongly that they were called into existence to re-stablish unity within the Church. After good and difficult times and experiences, the Holy Spirit led the Society into the Catholic Church in 1909.

The Octave and its reliance on prayer for unity was welcomed wholeheartedly by the Catholic Church and observance grew rapidly. It was at the conclusion of what became known as the Chair of Unity Octave on January 25, 1959 that Pope St. John XIII called for Vatican Council II. At the same time in the 20th century, similar Weeks of Prayer established by Catholics and Orthodox Christians in France as well as Reform Churches in Switzerland worked together on observances from January 18-25, based on the concept of praying for the unity of the Church, “as Christ wills it.” With the birth of the World Council of Churches in 1948, it became a firm part of the Christian Calendar in the West.

The streams came together after Vatican Council II. Since 1968, a joint commission of the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has settled on an annual scriptural theme produced by ecumenical groups in various countries. The theme for 2022 comes from the Middle East Council of Churches, with most of the input from the Christians of Lebanon. “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him.” (Cf. MT 2:2)

Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, in the ongoing tradition of the Society of the Atonement offers all who desire Christian unity the opportunity to pray together from January 18-25, 2022. In these pages you with find resources to do so. We hope you will find them helpful. Let us continue to pray, “that they all may be one.”