“An important and profound step for relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches.”
That’s how the Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, described the contribution of the Catholic-founded ecumenical community Chemin Neuf.
Last month, the Anglican Archbishop invited members of the group to move into Lambeth Palace, his official London residence on the south side of the Thames. In a ceremony on February 20, he formally welcomed four members of the community: a married Anglican couple, Ione and Alan Morley-Fletcher; a German Lutheran training for ministry, Oliver Matri; and a Polish Catholic consecrated sister, Sister Ula Michlowicz.
The first priority identified by Archbishop Welby is the renewal of prayer and the religious life within the Church. The ecumenical group will join with the Archbishop in his daily round of prayer (three services per day in the Palace’s Crypt Chapel), and will help to further the ecumenical and international dimensions of his work.
Attending a special service of thanksgiving and dedication in the chapel at Lambeth Palace on Thursday, in addition to the four new Palace residents, were Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, and Archbishop David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See.
Archbishop Welby, speaking before a service of thanksgiving and dedication in the chapel at Lambeth Palace, said that the process of bringing the two Churches together would advance “one step at a time”.
“This is an important ecumenical step and a profound one. There is a sense that Jesus Christ is bringing us together to pray together,” he said. Further, Archbishop Welby 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.”
The service was attended by the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop David Moxon.
Sister Michlowicz, the Catholic member of the community, said in The Tablet:
“I love praying in the Crypt. It is like being part of an underground prayer stream overflowing into Lambeth Palace, to the city of London, to all these places we’re praying for.”
Chemin Neuf is a Catholic foundation with an ecumenical vocation, and its members come from different Christian denominations. Among its members are men and women, both married and single. Some of the members take lifetime vows, while others commit for a shorter term.