In the run-up to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an Irish sister has underlined how ‘Guided Prayer’ weeks are ecumenical events.
Sr Eibhlis Ni Uaithuas from the Office for Evangelisation and
Ecumenism has been organising Weeks of Guided Prayer for parishes in the
Archdiocese of Dublin since 2012. About 20 parishes avail of this
service each year.
Typically, Sr Eibhlis and a group of trained Prayer Guides will spend
a week in a parish.
On Sunday night they meet with all those who are
interested in doing the Week of Guided Prayer.
Christians from other churches in the area are also invited to take
part in the week.
On the Sunday night, the Prayer Guides explain, after
an opening prayer, how to pray with scripture. Then each person is
assigned a Prayer Guide. He or she will meet with this person one-on-one
for half an hour each day from Monday to Friday.
“Out of the
conversation with the Prayer Guide comes the meditation for the
following day’s reflection”, Sr Eibhlis told CatholicIreland.net.
The Week of Guided Prayer is a way of making a mini retreat in the
midst of daily living and rooted in Ignatian spirituality. Those who
take part (ideally Christians of more than one denomination) are invited
to do two things every day for the week: firstly, to meet with their
‘Prayer Guide’ or ‘soul friend’ at an agreed time every day for 30
minutes, and secondly, to spend half an hour in personal prayer by
taking some quiet time each day on their own at home.
“People really love it. They discover that scripture can speak to
them”, said Sr Eibhlis. “It takes them where they are and brings them to
a different place.” The Guided Prayer weeks are open to everyone. “One
person who hadn’t been going to Mass or praying just came along after he
saw an advertisement,” she recalled.
The Office of Evangelisation and Ecumenism has around 70 voluntary
Prayer Guides, most of whom have been trained through the Manresa
Spiritual Direction programme. They are lay men and women, religious
sisters, brothers and priests who are trained and experienced to support
people in their prayer life.
On the Saturday at the end of the Week of Guided Prayer, the
participants assemble once again for a closing prayer session and
evaluation. “It reminds me of the parable of the loaves and fishes,”
says Sr Eibhlis, “so nothing gets lost”.
published on the Dublin archdiocese website bear witness to the strong
positive effects the ‘mini retreat’ has on participants, some of whom
describe it as ‘transformational’: “I found the experience of the week
very rewarding. The readings became alive and I felt that I learned to
pray them not just read them.”
“I never knew that the gospel could speak to my life.”
“I really enjoyed my time with my prayer guide. I looked forward to it every day.”
“I am going to continue taking time for myself to pray every day because it has helped me.”
Sr Eibhlis, who is also involved in the Ecumenical Bible Week,
sees the Week of Guided Prayer as a means of ecumenical engagement.
encourage parishes offering the Week to include their local Church of
Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian groups.”
The parish of Kilcullen
will run their Week of Guided Prayer from Sun 29 January to Saturday 4