What is the International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians?
The International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians is an annual day of prayer which enables Eastern and Western Christians to come together in communion through prayer. The event unites Latin rite dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe with dioceses of the Eastern Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome: namely, the Armenian Catholic, Chaldean, Coptic Catholic, Ethiopian and Eritrean Catholic (in Africa), Greek Melkite, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Syro-Malabar (in India), Syro-Malankara (in India).
When is it held?
The International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians always takes place on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, with the participation of Christians from all over Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and India. In 2021, the event will take place on Sunday 9th May.
Who are the Eastern Christians?
The Eastern Christians in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa are direct descendants of the Early Christians and trace their roots back to apostolic times. There are more than 26 million Eastern Christians living in the Middle East and surrounding regions. For Western Christians, they provide a direct link to the Early Church, leading us to the roots of Christianity and showing us, through their tradition and witness, a living faith in Christ.
Why is the International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians on the Sixth Sunday of Easter?
Sunday after Sunday, during the Easter celebrations, Eastern and Western Christians hear the Acts of the Apostles which witness to the first preaching of the Gospel. These readings remind us of the origin of the Eastern Churches and the history of the first Eastern Christians, who brought the Gospel to us. Nowadays, many of these Eastern Christians are oppressed and persecuted, and struggle to survive and to pass on our faith to their children, in their own lands where Christianity was born and first spread.
History of the International day of Prayer for Eastern Christians
The International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians began as a national event in France in 2018 at the initiative of the Catholic charity, Oeuvre d’Orient, and has established itself as an annual event which, through prayer, brings together Catholics in France with Eastern Christians. From 2019, Oeuvre d’Orient’s sister branches in the United Kingdom, Spain and Monaco embraced the event, aided by the support of Catholic dioceses in their respective countries, thereby enabling Catholics from those European states to join in the day of prayer with Eastern Christians. In 2020, the British charity FACE – the sister branch of Oeuvre d’Orient in the UK – was able to galvanise a widespread participation in the four Catholic metropolitan provinces of England.
Who organises the International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians?
FACE organises the event in the UK. FACE’s sister agency, Oeuvre d’Orient organises the event in France.
An international day of communion through prayer.
We invite Western Christians to recite the following prayer for Eastern Christians:
Heavenly Father, we pray today for peace in the world, especially in the Middle East. By your heavenly grace, strengthen the faith and hope of Eastern Christians. May they be blessed with peace and prosperity in their lands. And may we be inspired by their devotion and witness to the Gospel, by their love and compassion for all in their communities, and by their courage, their endurance and self-sacrifice against oppression. Through their charity, tolerance and friendship, bring peace and reconciliation to those troubled lands, where Christianity was born and first spread. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
How to celebrate this day?
- We ask you to say the prayer with us on the International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians on the Sixth Sunday of Easter.
- We ask you to suggest to your parish priest to include the intention of Eastern Christians in the Prayers of the Faithful during Mass on the Sixth Sunday of Easter.
- We ask you to share this intention and the prayer with your family and friends.
How can you help Eastern Christians?
- BEAR WITNESS TO CHRIST. Often Eastern Christians ask: are there still Christians in the United Kingdom? Perhaps, before wondering what we can do for them, we should ask ourselves whether we truly bear witness to Christ as faithfully as they do.
- GET TO KNOW THE EASTERN CHRISTIANS. There are several Eastern Churches in the United Kingdom, not least Armenian Catholic, Chaldean, Coptic Catholic, Eritrean Catholic, Maronite, and Ukranian Catholic. Participate in their liturgies, meet them (your brothers and sisters in Christ), and share your common origins.
- BE AN ADVOCATE OF THEIR RIGHTS AND DEFEND THEIR CAUSE. Be encouraged to write from time to time to your Member of Parliament, asking that the British Government remain vigilant to the predicament of Eastern Christians in the Middle East and resolute in defending their cause.
- BE FULLY CATHOLIC. To be fully Catholic means thinking of the whole Church. Eastern Catholics are also part of the Universal Catholic Church, in which the Eastern Catholic Churches are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. We should share our faith with Eastern Christians in whatever way we can, not least by charity.