Tribute to the Paulists and the WTU
I had the privilege of preaching at the Prayer Service to celebrate the Paulist charism during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, at the Washington Theological Union. I loved sitting and praying next to Fr. Hurley–once co-chair of the Student Board a few years back, and worshipping with the Paulists, WTU staff, and lay supporters. I want to share the tail end of my homily–a reflection on I Cor 12.
“While Paul focuses on spiritual gifts given to individuals in service and leadership, could it be that such gifts are imparted to communities as well? Perhaps the Corinthians were torn asunder, not because they elevated ecstatic tongues above all other gifts, but because they failed to identify this gift as their charism to offer the wider church? We Protestants often miss this communal dimension of the Spirit’s gift-giving, and so the importance to all of us in the WTU’s current celebration of the “charisms” of each religious community it is associated with. The Paulists, might I venture to say, exemplify the Pauline gifts of Wisdom, Prophecy, and Healing in their distinct charisms of Evangelization, Ecumenism, and Reconciliation.
Both the Paulists and WTU were founding members of the Washington Theological Consortium. Their gathering of the charisms and distinct apostolates of the various religious study houses has made unique contributions to theological education in the region: strong missional elements, various traditions of spiritual formation, deep ecumenical commitments, and a strongly interdisciplinary approach to intellectual and pastoral formation that the larger, guild-driven institutions often miss. Both communities have contributed significant leadership to deepening ecumenical learning and relations in the region.
So friends, when you are called to step up and lead, for the sake of the larger body, step up with the guiding passion and gift of your life, given to you by God. The men and women of the WTU have done this for decades, and will continue to do so in their own changing ministries; so too have and will the Paulists. Thanks be to God for their gifts and forms of leadership offered for us all—in the Lord’s name.”