Ecumenism and Parish LifeCourse Level: Intermediate

Course Summary

The call for unity among all Christians is based on Jesus' prayer ""¦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 17:21) Because of that request, seeking unity is a task set before all Christians. Since Catholics interact every day with other Christians in community and parish life, it is important to understand how we relate, what we share, and what we can learn from each other. Elements of ecumenism in relation to catechetical formation, worship, sacraments, essential teachings and missionary witness will be addressed. This course will concentrate on the role of ecumenism (the relationship and quest for unity among Christians) and not interfaith affairs (i.e., relationships with members of non-Christian world religions).

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • Recognize the Catholic Church's ongoing commitment to the cause of Christian Unity
  • Understand the theological principles upon which ecumenism is grounded
  • Recognize key terms and concepts in ecumenical dialogue
  • Recognize that ecumenism is an essential element of formation for Catholic identity
  • Become familiar with some official Catholic documents concerning ecumenism
  • Discover how elements of ecumenism enter into catechesis and pastoral practice for the sacraments
  • Learn how to implement ecumenical dialogue in relation to Catholic teaching about Scripture, the Church and Mary
  • Understand how all Catholics are called to a missionary spirit of ecumenism - and what some practical implications of this might be for parish ministry

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Gros, Jeffrey, F.S.C. That All May Be One - Ecumenism 2001, Chicago, Loyola Press (National Conference for Catechetical Leadership) ISBN: 0829414916; ISBN-13: 978-0829414912

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: Christian Division, Culture and the Quest for Unity
    • Understand that Catholic faith formation essentially includes ecumenical formation
    • Place ecumenism within today’s cultural context
    • Learn which institutions are actively pursuing Christian unity in cooperation with the Magisterium of the Church
    • Obtain an overview of the other Christian Churches with which Catholics relate
  • Week 2: Catholic Formation for Ecumenism
    • Understand the principle elements of an ecumenical approach
    • Learn how all Catholic formation should be rooted in ecumenism
    • Learn who should be formed and who should be responsible for ecumenical formation
  • Week 3: Sacraments in an Ecumenical Context
    • Discover what Christians from other major denominations share with Catholics in terms of the nature of worship and sacraments
    • Recognize that Catholic sacramental catechesis involving non-Catholic persons – should honor and recognize points of agreement with other Christian traditions, while respecting the differences
    • Learn when and how it is appropriate for non-Catholics to participate in Catholic sacraments
  • Week 4: Catechetical Themes & Ecumenism
    • Understand what Catholic hold in common with other Christians regarding Scripture and Tradition - as well as what is important to retain as different
    • Understand concepts Christians can come to share about the nature of the Church and its unity
    • Recognize the challenges of sharing our differences with other Christians regarding authority and leadership in the Church
    • Understand the content of the common faith of Christians about Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as what is unique to Catholic belief
  • Week 5: Formation for Common Witness
    • Understand how the New Evangelization has an essential ecumenical dimension
    • Become aware of the necessity for Christian witness that does not contradict or show prejudice toward the witness of other Christians
    • Learn how common moral values and the Christian way of life can be a shared call to holiness that unites Christians
    • Learn about some of the challenges and dimensions of witness about which Christians still need to negotiate common understanding and respect