FORT WAYNE — The Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Committee sponsored the eighth annual Catholic-Lutheran Advent Vesper Service of Light held this year at St. Peter Catholic Church on Nov. 19, the first Sunday of Advent. Clergy from both communities participated in the procession and a combined adult choir comprised of area Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations provided beautiful music.
Catholics and Lutherans alike came to pray, sing and worship together on the dreary Sunday afternoon. Dan Krach, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, has attended the vesper service each year and says that he enjoys starting the Advent season with the ecumenical service. Mary Kay Matasky, sacramental coordinator at St. Mary Church, previously attended the Catholic-Lutheran Vesper Service with a friend who attended Trinity Lutheran Church and now lives in Toledo. Matasky said, “I told her that I would come and pray for her today.”
Presiding over the service were Bishop John M. D’Arcy and Rev. Rudy Mueller, assistant to Bishop James R. Stuck from the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Bishop Stuck was unable to attend due to a recent hospitalization.
The first reading for the vesper service was from Isaiah, where on that day the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him where justice will prevail and all will live in peace. The second reading was from 2 Peter, which encourages lives of holiness and devotion.
Pastor Mueller commented, “Until we can celebrate the Eucharist together, we have to be Eucharist to one another by reaching out to one another.” He also noted that when there is a divergence in beliefs, then Christ choses current day believers to carry on the mission and God promises in sacred Scripture that divisions will cease.
Bishop D’Arcy remarked that, as he approaches retirement, the relationship between the Evangelical Lutherans and Catholics over the years “has been a source of great joy.” He said that Lutherans and Catholics have mutual agreement on several issues and only a few disagreements, specifically marriage and different aspects of prayer.
Bishop D’Arcy recalled that Bishop Stuck and he walked the streets of Auburn to bring the two faith communities together. He reminded those in attendance that both denominations proclaimed the same Scriptures, both recited the Apostle’s Creed and engaged in prayer together. The two shepherds agreed that, “We will all be singing and praying in heaven. We won’t be asking where we came from.”
Bishop D’Arcy spoke of the wedding feast at Cana and suggested that Mary’s advice to “Do whatever he tells you,” should be heard by Lutherans and Catholics alike. He encouraged believers to “pray for the Light to hear his Word and to give themselves as a gift to others in God’s name.”
Pastor Mueller addressed the congregation by saying that he remembers the area surrounding St. Peter Catholic Church because he grandparents lived just a few blocks from there. He went on to say that since Bishop Stuck has decided not to continue for another six-year term as bishop, he would want to thank Bishop D’Arcy and those present for the relationship established and the memories given him through this union of the two denominations. Bishop Stuck regards Bishop D’Arcy as “a good friend and partner in ministry.”
Refreshments and fellowship followed the vespers service in the parish hall.
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