Churches Urged to Get Together for Ecumenical Pentecost Faith Fest, 17-19 May

plunkett shipAn ecumenical “Faith Fest” for the Feast of Pentecost is set for 17-19 May. St Oliver Plunkett’s Catholic parish in West Belfast and Church of the Good Shepherd (Church of Ireland and Methodist) in Monkstown will both be hosting 24/7 Prayer Rooms throughout the three day programme.

Other events include:

Friday 17th May at Oliver Plunkett:

10.00am Mass celebrated by Fr Clement Marshall – theme is ‘Reverence’
7.30pm Praying with Icons – Meditation on “The Descent of the Holy Spirit”

Please note: No evening Mass

Saturday 18th May at Oliver Plunkett:

‘Wonder and Awe’
10.00am Rosary: The Glorious Mysteries
12 noon Sacrament of Reconciliation – Praying for forgiveness
6.30pm   Vigil Mass celebrated by Fr Martin Magill – theme is “Wonder and Awe”
Night      All-night Vigil in Parish Hall – everyone welcome

Sunday 19th May
Feast of Pentecost at Oliver Plunkett:

10.00am Mass, Fr Lawrence Simbota PP, Blantyre, Malawi
12.00pm   Mass, Fr Martin Magill AND Fr Raymond McCullagh
1.30pm Baptisms, Praying for new beginnings
7.00pm Evening Prayer of the Church:
Preacher – Rev David Brice, Glengormley Presbyterian Church
Ending with refreshments in Parish Hall

Oliver Plunkett’s 24/7 prayer room will operate in the parish hall from 9.00am on Friday 17 May until Sunday 19 May at 9.30am. The Church of the Good Shepherd, Monkstown, will be having a 24/7 prayer room from 10.30am Saturday 18 May until 10.30am Sunday 19 May. All are welcome.

Fr Martin Magill of Oliver Plunkett said that the new initiative was sparked by a woman in the parish, “who had been saying for a number of years that as a parish we should make more of the Feast of Pentecost – the birth of the Church.” He added that he hoped the events will foster:

“Greater awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit; and from the ecumenical perspective that we celebrate the different gifts each denomination has.”

Fr Magill said that it is his wish that the Faith Fest would prompt a greater desire for reconciliation, rooted in the second reading at Mass for the weekend: 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13. Rev David Brice of Glengormley Presbyterian Church will preach on it at Sunday’s 7 pm evening prayer at Oliver Plunkett’s. The text reads:

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.    

Fr Magill added that he hoped that churches throughout Belfast would be encouraged to “cancel their evening services on Pentecost and all worship together.”

This is an idea that I have previously advocated on this blog, for example in my post detailing a lecture I gave on “Religion, Reconciliation and Reconstruction in Northern Ireland.” I wrote:

… local clergy and church fora could agree to do far more together than they currently do, including sharing baptismal services.

The effectiveness of such initiatives would be enhanced if on set occasions, churches closed for a particular service and encouraged their members to attend a service at another church, preferably of a different denomination. Doing this would communicate to their own members, and the surrounding community, that it is possible to transcend some of the perceived structural barriers to joint Christian fellowship.

It would also be encouraging to see people from different denominations attending the prayer vigils at Church of the Good Shepherd or Oliver Plunkett’s – even if that means going geographically out of their way to do so,in the manner encouraged by the recent 4 Corners Festival.

Or people can get started early by attending tomorrow’s In Joyful Hope event, at 8 pm at St Gall’s Church of Ireland, Crawfordsburn. In Joyful Hope, which has now been running for several years, aims to encourage Eucharistic sharing.

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