SAN FRANCISCO – Leaders of San Francisco’s Catholic and Greek Orthodox communities urged their traditions to continue pursuing mutual understanding and unity, during an ecumenical “litany for peace.”
Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Gerasimos and Catholic Archbishop George H. Niederauer capped an evening of sacred music and readings featuring themes of peace and reconciliation June 28 at St. Dominic Parish in San Francisco by lighting in unison the final candle of a candelabra which had served as a symbol of growing unity during the evening.
Between choral offerings, two pairs of youngsters – one Greek Orthodox, one Catholic – had walked to the altar area and each lit a candle on either side of the candelabra.
Titled “Litany for Peace: An Ecumenical Evening of Sacred Readings and Music,” the program featured three choral ensembles – the Solemn Choir of St. Dominic Church and the choirs of San Francisco’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
Quoting St. Augustine, Archbishop Niederauer noted the saint had instructed listeners to “sing, but keep going.” The archbishop said the words were an appropriate message for the St. Dominic gathering. “Our two communities should sing, but we should also keep going together” toward fuller unity, he said.
Metropolitan Gerasimos used “Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew” as metaphors for the relationship between the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches.
“In a very profound way our presence tonight in this magnificent sanctuary,” he said, should serve as a reminder “of how two simple fishermen, brothers, responded to the call of Christ.”
“The implications of their daring response enabled our two ancient and holy churches to enjoy an unprecedented 1,000 years of shared history and calls us to continue to pray for unity so that the body of Christ may someday be one again,” he added.