Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Three faith communities, one Lenten mission

March 20, 2019

By Darcy Fargo

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. – John 17:20-21Lenten Mission

MASSENA – Three churches from three different denominations are joining together to hold a Lenten mission centered around unity in Christ.

St. Peter’s Parish is teaming up with New Testament Church (nondenominational) and Emmanuel Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) to offer a combined Lenten mission on April 2, 3 and 4. The theme of the mission is “John 17.” In addition to the Bible passage, the theme refers to a movement and a book of the same name.

“I suggested the idea of a shared mission to Don Curry, who served as pastor at New Testament Church for many years,” said Father Mark R. Reilly, pastor of St. Peter’s Parish. “Don and I have developed a friendship in my time here. He’s been involved in the John 17 movement and has a real sense of God’s desire for unity among Christians.”

Father Reilly said he became familiar with the John 17 movement through Pastor Curry and has attended several of the organization’s events and gatherings. The movement’s founder, Joseph Tosini, will be among the speakers at the Lenten mission.

“This is a relational reconciliation movement,” said Tosini. “We’re not into solving all the theological difficulties. We’re dealing with relationships. Relationships begin at the feet and not at the head. Pope Francis has said that theologians do good work, but if we wait for theologians to be united, we’ll be waiting until Jesus returns. In the meantime, let’s walk together and share together.”

John 17 leaders have traveled to the Vatican, where they discussed ecumenism.

“When Pope Francis was asked what people could do to build relationships with people of different faiths, Pope Francis said, ‘get a latte or a gelato and go for a walk together,’” said Father Reilly. “It’s about developing relationships. It takes a long time for theology to trickle down from theologians to every day folks living their faith. Relationships can be much more immediate.”

Father Reilly and Pastor Curry said this Lenten mission is part of that walk together.

“We’re going to do one evening of the mission at Emmanuel Congregational Church, one at St. Mary’s and the last day at New Testament Church,” Father Reilly said. “All three of us have distinct styles of worship and practicing our faith. We’re going to honor and respect each traditional form of worship but recognize what the others bring to the table.”

Pastor Curry said each night of the mission will be different but have some commonalities.

“There will be a moderator overseeing each gathering,” he said. “The local pastor will host a meeting, an explanation of what we’re doing. There will be praise and worship with live music. There will be testimonies about what God is doing with unity and relational reconciliation.”

Tuesday’s session will include a talk from Bishop Terry R. LaValley, as well.

Father Reilly noted that there are some challenges in planning an ecumenical event.

“When I first mentioned to (Pastor Curry) the idea of a Lenten mission, he wasn’t familiar with a parish mission, but he was familiar with the concept of a revival,” Father Reilly said. “The question was, could we wed those ideas and have time for prayer, worship, witnesses and testimonies, and developing friendships across denominational lines.”

Mike Herron, a John 17 leadership team member, will be among the mission presenters. He noted John 17 sees Catholic involvement as critical to the movement.

“We have a very ecumenical team,” Herron said. “But we see Catholics as very instrumental in bringing us all together. You’re the largest denomination. Most of the Protestant groups are a lot smaller.”

Father Reilly said he sees ecumenism as necessary for spreading the Gospel in an increasing secular society.
“Acknowledging we’re all facing an increasingly hyper secular culture that’s increasingly hostile to our faith and to us living our faith, we can’t necessarily keep paddling in our own directions,” he said. “We used to be able to get away with staying hold up in our own sectarian groupings. More and more, that’s not going to be practical. The Lord may be forcing our hand to work through this.”

The mission organizers say people of all faiths and people who may have little or no faith are welcome to join the event for any or all of the three nights.

Learn more about the John 17 movement at john17movement.com.


North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.