Belfast Telegraph

St Anne's Cathedral hosts prayer meetings on five Fridays of Lent

By Alf McCreary

A series of prayer meetings for Lent will be held in St Anne's Cathedral.

During five Friday afternoons over the fast period, guest speakers will explore the Art and Form of Prayer.

The services will be held in the cathedral's Chapel of Unity from 4.15pm and will then be followed by Evensong.

The wide range of cross-community speakers include Fr Tom Leyden, the province co-ordinator for ecumenism, who will start the series on February 23 with a reflection on the Ignatian Tradition.

Next up, Presbyterian minister Rev Cheryl Meban, chaplain at Ulster University, will talk on Face to Face.

The series will continue with contributions from Corrymeela Community leader Padriag O Tuama, who will talk on The Collect, and Rev Canon Mark Niblock, the Dean's Vicar at St Anne's, who will talk about Choral Evensong on the eve of St Patrick's Day.

The series will finish on March 23 when the Church of Ireland Dean of Armagh, Very Rev Gregory Dunstan, will reflect on The Jesus Prayer.

The series is being hosted by St Anne's and the Corrymeela Community.

Meanwhile, churches and Christian communities in north Belfast will hold 40 days of 'ReLENTless' prayer during the period.

The initiative has come from the Church of Ireland Lower Shankill Ministry team headed by Rev Canon James Carson and his wife Heather, the parish development officer.

It has the support of 21 local churches and Christian communities, and the non-denomination College in Wenha, near Boston in the US, will cover one of the days of prayer.

Students from the American college have been visiting Belfast for several years in partnership with the Duncairn Centre. Canon Carson moved to the Lower Shankill after 17 years in St Paul's Parish Lisburn, soon after local clergy organised a similar 40 days of prayer.

He said: "We are great believers in partnership and we can have a much bigger impact in north Belfast than if we go it alone. Our vision is that we set an example by working together."

The churches and communities involved include St Stephen's and St Michael's Church of Ireland, the Divine Healing Ministries, Shankill and Jennymount Methodist Churches, Alexandra and Eglinton Presbyterian Churches, Shankill Church of the Nazarene, the Mission to Seafarers and All Nations Ministries and Lamb of God Community.

Meanwhile, as Catholics celebrated Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis invited everyone to live the 40 days of Lent as a time to "pause" from things which keep us from "virtue and to return home to the loving and merciful embrace of God the Father".

"Return without fear to those outstretched, eager arms of your Father, who is rich in mercy, who awaits you. Return without fear, for this is the favourable time to come home," the Pope said. "Lent is the time for allowing one's heart to be touched..." he added, explaining how "persisting on the path of evil only gives rise to disappointment and sadness".

"True life is something quite distinct and our heart indeed knows this. God does not tire, nor will he tire, of holding out his hand," he said.

Francis prayed the Stations of the Cross at St Anselm Church in Rome before heading to the Basilica of Santa Sabina for the celebration of Mass.

Belfast Telegraph

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