By Harvey Shepherd
The Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism is organizing a conference October 24 to 25 in the Anglicans’ Fulford Hall to mark the 50th anniversary of its creation and other historic moments in the early 1960s in the inter-church, and to some extent, interfaith movement called ecumenism. Adriana Bara, now beginning her second year as director of the centre, acknowledges that the celebration is taking place at a time when some people are asking whether the whole notion of ecumenism is outmoded.
Obviously she doesn’t think so, which is among the reasons the centre is organizing the conference and making it the occasion to launch an Irénée Beaubien Ecumenical Institute, named for the distinguished Jesuit ecumenist and founder of the centre, now age 98.
She hopes both the institute and the bilingual conference—at 1444 Union Ave., behind Christ Church Cathedral—will also promote a couple of her goals for the centre: to bring it closer to the scholarly community and make it more accessible to students and the public. “This will be a wonderful opportunity for students and the public to encounter some leading scholars and bishops,” she said.
The Anglican bishop of Montreal, Barry Clarke, is one of four bishops on the program, along with Roman Catholic Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal, the ecumenically-minded Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd of the Catholic archdiocese and Bishop Ioan Casian, based in the Lachute area as vicar bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the Americas. Bishop Clarke’s presentation is titled “An Ecumenical Dance with Anglicans.”
Other speakers will represent a wide range of views, but several of them also reflect Bara’s Christian Orthodox roots and her association with the Concordia University department of theological studies, a co-sponsor of the conference along with the centre and the Roman Catholic and Anglican dioceses. Bara still teaches part-time at Concordia.
The 14 speakers at the conference will also include Rev. Thomas Ryan, a leading ecumenist and a former director of the centre. Now based in Washington, D.C., as head of the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, he headed the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism for 14 years and was founding director of the Montreal spiritual centre Unitas for another five before returning to the United States in 2000. His topic, “Spiritual and Receptive Ecumenism,” will reflect a current emphasis in some ecumenical churches on what one’s faith can learn from that of others rather than the reverse.
Professor Gilles Routhier of Université Laval will ask whether ecumenism is outdated. While none of the speakers is from a non-Christian religion or an evangelical background, Rev. Gilles Barrette of the Missionaries of Africa (or White Fathers) will discuss “Witness to Christ in Meeting Muslims” and Paul Allen of Concordia will discuss Catholic-evangelical “complementarity on creation,” albeit from a Catholic perspective.
Professor Christine Jamieson of Concordia will draw on personal aboriginal roots in a talk on aboriginal spirituality as an ecumenical encounter. Two Concordia faculty, Matthew Anderson and Sara Terreault, will discuss the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela as a contemporary ecumenical practice. Two others, Dragos Giulea and Lucian Tourescu, will touch on issues in Christian Orthodoxy and Eastern Europe, as will Paul Ladouceur of the Université de Sherbrooke and Trinity College, Toronto.
For more information, call 514-937-9176 ext. 33. Or send an email to [email protected] or visit www.oikoumene.ca and click on Irénée Beaubien s.j. Ecumenical Institute Activities, then click on the icon—in both senses of that word.
Harvey Shepherd is editor of The Montreal Anglican, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Montreal