By Charles Igwe
In anticipation of the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod, Pope Francis will preside over an ecumenical prayer vigil in St Peter’s Square on Saturday, September 30th. The event will welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and numerous other Church leaders, along with thousands of Christians from various denominations.
The prayer vigil aims to invoke the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the 16th General Assembly of the Synod, scheduled from October 4th to October 29th in the Vatican. It will encompass activities such as listening to the Word of God, praise, intercession, Taizé songs, and moments of silence.
The program leading up to the prayer vigil and the ecumenical gathering will be broadcast live on Vatican Media’s YouTube channel, featuring translations into eight languages. Social media platforms will provide updates, with hashtags #Together2023 on Facebook and Instagram and @Together2023 on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Before the prayer vigil on Saturday, from 5 to 6 pm, there will be a celebration of gratitude focused on four gifts: gratitude for the gift of unity and the synodal journey, the gift of the other, the gift of peace, and the gift of Creation. As the Season of Creation is celebrated in churches worldwide, St. Peter’s Square will be adorned with trees, flowers, and the San Damiano Cross of St. Francis.
Thousands of young adults from various countries will partake in a program of workshops and meetings in Rome from September 29th to October 1st. This program includes the ecumenical prayer vigil on Saturday and, earlier that afternoon, a prayer of praise and worship in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
The young adults’ workshops will cover various themes, such as hearing from refugees, learning from other denominations and faiths, visiting city missions for marginalized communities, recognizing Christ in diverse traditions, ecumenical panel discussions, and caring for the environment.
In a similar spirit, over 200 joint prayer events are scheduled worldwide around September 30th, where Christians from different Churches will gather for prayer and reflection in their respective countries.