Father, make them one: Chemin Neuf community comes to Lambeth Palace
Thursday 20th February 2014In a joyful ceremony with guests from Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches, Archbishop Justin welcomes four members of international ecumenical community to Lambeth Palace in a 'radical and exciting step' for Christian unity
The Archbishop of Canterbury today welcomed four members of the international ecumenical foundation Chemin Neuf to live as a praying community at Lambeth Palace.
The community, who have been invited to live at Lambeth Palace by Archbishop Justin, consist of a married Anglican couple, Ione and Alan Morley-Fletcher; a Lutheran training for ministry, Oliver Matri; and a Roman Catholic consecrated sister, Ula Michlowicz.
Together they will share in the daily round of prayer that underpins the Archbishop's ministry, and further the ecumenical and international dimensions of his work.
The first of three priority areas for Archbishop Justin’s ministry over the coming years is the renewal of prayer and the religious life within the Church.
In a special service attended by senior Anglican, Roman Catholic, Lutheran clergy and other guests, the Archbishop spoke of the importance of the Chemin Neuf community taking up residence at Lambeth Palace.
Archbishop Justin said: "There has never been a renewal of the Church in Western Europe without a renewal of prayer and the life of religious communities. If we want to see things changed, it starts with prayer.
“I am deeply moved that in God’s grace Chemin Neuf agreed to this radical and exciting new step of coming to live as a community of prayer, hospitality and learning at Lambeth Palace. We pray that this step of obedience will bear fruit among us, and for the Church.”
Fr Laurent Fabre, founder and Superior General of the Chemin Neuf community, said: “Four-hundred and eighty years it has been, and we are rejoicing over this new step [towards unity]. But the one who is rejoicing most is the Father himself, because 480 years of waiting is long even for God. This is a first step of something new.”
The Archbishop’s Chaplain, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said: “It’s fantastic to have Chemin Neuf among us. Their presence reminds us that the Church is bigger than the Church of England or the Anglican Communion. It also reminds that we don’t need to do separately what we can do together – and what we do together, we do better.”
The four members of the Chemin Neuf community expressed their excitement at being able to support Lambeth Palace as a place of Christian unity centred on prayer.
Alan Morley-Fletcher said: “What excited me most about the prospect of coming to Lambeth Palace was the idea of being able to be an ecumenical witness in an Anglican centre here in the middle of London. We’ll be praying particularly for the Archbishop and for all the activities that he undertakes. But we’ll be praying further than that for the Anglican Church and wider outside the Anglican Church – for the way that things are done and decided here that affects the move towards Christian unity.”
Oliver Matri said: “For me as a Lutheran, living and praying at the heart of the Anglican Communion is a very exciting way of putting this commitment into practice. We pray for a different diocese each day, which is a very tangible way of linking up with this church that is present all over the world.”
Ula Michlowicz said: “Being part of this great ecumenical adventure is for me, as a Catholic Sister, a huge privilege. To be together around the altar during the daily community Eucharist is a deep experience of both communion and the suffering of separation. I just remain with Jesus washing our feet, of all of us. It gives me strength.”
Ione Morley-Fletcher said: “I feel very privileged to have been invited to come and live out the prayer of Jesus ‘that they may all be one’ here amongst the diversity of traditions within our own Community, and all those represented in Lambeth Palace, and to pray for this unity.”