The National Workshop on Christian Unity was held for the second time in Alquerque, NM. The first time it was held there was in 1994, while I served as ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and joined Dr. Wallace Ford of the New Mexico Conference of Churches and Rev. Ed Katzenberger, ecumenical officer for the Presbytery of Santa Fe, NM, on the local planning commission for the NWCU. Ed Katzenberger was the first person I met at the registration desk and he welcomed my return to Albuquerque.
It was great to see many people from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe engaged in the local planning commission, registrations for the Workshop, and other activities. The New Mexico Conference of Churches was again involved as a co-sponsor of the event and it was good to share time with good friends and colleagues from other churches.
Two outstanding presentations by the National Workshop which I shared were Moral Decision Making in an Ecumenical Context by Bishop John Bauerschmidt, co-chair of the Episcopal-Roman Catholic Dialogue (USA) and “1517: What Happened? How is It Important Today?” with Michael Root (a CADEIO workshop). Dr. Root is a Lutheran theologian who recently converted to Catholicism. ARCNY had suggested I attend the Bauerschmidt lecture since the topic of moral discernment will be discussed by ARCIC internationally and nationally by ARCUSA in the coming years.
Again this year participants were encouraged to share the two Eucharistic liturgies according to the rules of their church or denomination. The Catholic Mass was celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church with Archbishop Michael Sheehan presiding. The Protestant Eucharistic liturgy was concelebrated by members of the Churches Uniting in Christ (who share pulpit and altar fellowship). The homily for this Protestant liturgy was given by Fr. Don Rooney, President of the Catholic Association of Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers. This was the first time a Catholic priest gave this homily. Having virtually all the participants of the National Workshop sharing the same liturgy according to the rules of their church was a visible sign of ecumenical progress in recent years.
I spoke briefly with Archbishop Michael Sheehan and thanked him for the opportunity of working with him as ecumenical officer for many years. He was very gracious and happy to see me. I also spoke to Fr. J. Bennett Voorhies recently appointed as ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. We hope to keep in touch in the months ahead.
The Opening Worship Service in which local bishops and leaders participated with the National Workshop Planning Board and homily by the Rt. Rev. David Bailey was inspiring and uplifting. Two Bible Studies led by Rev. Dr. George “Tink” Tinker, Native American theologian were informative and enlightening. Dr. Diana Butler Bass spoke at the Closing Luncheon on the subject of “One in the Spirit? The Spiritual but not Religious and the Future of Ecumenism.” Ecumenism is alive and well.