Press Release
Calgary, AB, Canada, June 17-22, 2016

The Fourth Session of the Fifth Phase of the Disciples of Christ-Roman Catholic International Commission for Dialogue took place in Calgary, AB, Canada, from June 17-22, 2016. The general theme for the present phase of dialogue is “Christians Formed and Transformed by the Eucharist.” After an introductory meeting (Nashville, January 2014); the Commission approached the topics related to what it means to be “Formed by the Eucharist” discussing “The Structure of Liturgies among Catholics and Disciples” (Rome, June 2014) and “The Significance of Eucharistic Catechesis – ‘Knowing by Doing’ ” (Bethany, WV, June 2015). The 2016 session approached topics related to “Christians Being Transformed by the Eucharist,” focusing on the general theme “The Eucharist and Relationships within the Church.” The overall goal of the dialogue, which started in 1977, is the full visible unity between the two communions.

The Disciples Co-Chair of the Dialogue is Rev. Dr. Newell Williams, President of Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University [TCU], Fort Worth, TX, USA. The Catholic Co-Chair of the Dialogue is the Most Reverend David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, WI, USA.

Papers were prepared by Rev. Dr. Thomas Best, “Disciples of Christ: Citizens of Heaven, Transformed by the Eucharist” and, for Catholics, Msgr. Michael Clay, D. Min. “Transformed by the Eucharist: The Eucharist and Relationship within the Church”. A biblical paper entitled “Isaiah 56:1-8: A Community Transformed?” was read by Rev. Dr. Merryl Blair (Disciples). According to the agreed proposal, the Commission will continue to explore the topic “Transformed by the Eucharist” by addressing the theme “Living the Sacraments” at its next meeting (Puerto Rico, 2017). Each day of the dialogue began and concluded with prayer together led alternately by Disciples and Catholics.

The meeting in Calgary provided the Commission with the opportunity to make various different local contacts. The Ecumenical Officers of the Archdiocese of Edmonton and of the Diocese of Calgary, respectively Mr. Julien Hammond and Deacon Adrian Martens, co-hosted a meeting with the parishioners of St Mary’s Cathedral after the Sunday Holy Mass presided by the Most Rev. David Ricken and attended by all the members of the Commission. Likewise, on Monday, June 21, after a Celebration of the Lord’s Supper by the Disciples that included the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Garbin, Regional Minister of the Disciples of Christ Canada, members of the Campbell-Stone United Church of Calgary heard some information about the dialogue itself and had the opportunity to interact with the members of the dialogue. The Commission was greeted by the Most Rev. Frederick Henry, Catholic Bishop of Calgary at a meeting which included the staff of St. Mary’s University and Alberta Bible College. The Commission expressed a word of thanks and appreciation to the Sisters’ Community of the Faithful Companions of Jesus for their support and hospitality during the meeting.

In reflecting on this meeting of the dialogue team, Bishop Ricken shared,

“I am learning a great deal about dialogue, most of all that real dialogue involves a deep listening to the other. It is in the deeper listening and in asking questions which are respectful and revelatory that real progress can be made in ecumenical conversation and in shared action. Our meeting and conversations with local communities of Disciples of Christ have been very helpful in seeing various expressions of Disciple life and mission.”

At the end of the meeting, the Disciples’ Co-Chair, Dr. Williams affirmed,

“Once again, the dialogue of this Disciples-Catholic International Commission has led to a deeper understanding of each other’s traditions and a fuller appreciation of the place of the Eucharist in both of our churches. From this session our hope for the renewal and greater unity of the one church is increased.”

The members from the Disciples of Christ are: Rev. Dr. Newell Williams, Brite Divinity School, TCU, Fort Worth, TX, USA, Co-Chair; Rev. Dr. Robert Welsh, Council on Christian Unity, Indianapolis, IN, USA, Co-Secretary; Rev. Dr. Thomas Best, Belmont, MA, USA; Rev. Dr. Merryl Blair, Stirling Theological College, University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia; Rev. Dr. James O. Duke, Brite Divinity School, TCU, Fort Worth, TX, USA; Rev. Angel Luis Rivera, Latin America and Caribbean Executive, Global Ministries, Indiana/Puerto Rico (unable to attend), and Rev. Dr. David M. Thompson, University of Cambridge, UK.

The members of the Catholic team are: Most Reverend David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, WI, USA, Co-Chair; Rev. Msgr. Juan Usma Gómez, Bureau Chief of Western Section, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City/Colombia, Co-Secretary; Msgr. Dr. Michael Clay, Assoc. Dean for Seminary and Ministerial Studies, School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., USA; Dr. Mary Coloe, University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia (unable to attend); Mr. Julien Hammond, Ecumenical Officer, Archdiocese of Edmonton, Canada: Rev. Dr. Joseph T. Shenosky, Vice-Rector, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, PA, USA; and Rev. Dr. Michael G. Witzcak, School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., USA.

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