As the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concludes, here’s an experience of synodality, dialogue and bonding with brothers from various churches in Bari, Italy. It was a step forward to get to know each other and to walk together.

For some years my husband Giulio and I have been following ecumenical dialogue with other movements within our diocese and on behalf of the Focolare Movement.

Some time ago we received a letter from Cardinal Kock, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, on the need to involve brothers and sisters of other churches at the synodal tables. These are moments in small groups, organised to articulate reflections and proposals on the way forward for our diocesan church, for the occasion of the synod launched in October 2021.

I seized the opportunity and went to see Father Alfredo, our bishop’s delegate for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, inviting him to consider this proposal. Later he contacted me to invite me to participate in a course for table facilitators in the diocese, which was very interesting.

The next step was to start visualising our meeting with our Christian brothers and sisters, and then gradually make it come to life. We looked for a suitable room and involved friends from other movements in the preparation. Each of them knew people from other churches, who in turn became facilitators themselves.

We set the dates, and in the morning we went together with my family to prepare the room to make it welcoming. We set six tables with coloured tablecloths, posters, coloured markers, as well as chocolates, drinks, glasses, etc.

We didn’t know how many people would come, so we wanted to make sure and put six chairs per table.

In the early afternoon our guests arrived. In the end there were 38 people from 9 different churches, and we had to add 2 chairs.

It was a wonderful experience. We entered as strangers and left as family, with the desire to get to know each other more so that we could pray together and live fraternal charity.

There was great enthusiasm at the discovery of being able to be together, with the joy of being one people of God.

Rita and Giulio Seller

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