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Catholics and Lutherans to gather in prayer Sept. 11

In a strong example of growing dialogue and ecumenism, the second of two historic prayer services with Catholics and Lutherans in the Omaha archdiocese will be held Sept. 11 at Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church in Omaha.

Led by Archbishop George J. Lucas and Lutheran Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, this month’s prayer service and the one held in May commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. They also mark 50 years of dialogue between Catholic and Lutheran leaders aimed at fostering the relationship between the churches.

Nearly 500 people attended the May 1 prayer service at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, where Archbishop Lucas ceremoniously welcomed the Lutheran bishop. Together, they blessed the congregation and led prayers, and Bishop Maas gave the homily.

Roles will be reversed for this month’s service, set for 7 p.m.

"These prayer services are important because they are a way of acknowledging our divisions, and the fact that we have to work to heal those divisions," said Brother William Woeger, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Divine Worship. "They also signify a commitment to working to spread the Gospel together."

The prayer service will include Scripture and other readings, and the St. Cecilia Choir will join the Kountze Memorial choir to sing hymns and psalms, Brother Woeger said. It also will be an opportunity to see one of Omaha’s historic churches, which dates to 1906.

Brother Woeger encouraged Catholics to attend the prayer service, demonstrating solidarity with others who believe and respond to the same Gospel. "What unites us is far greater than anything that separates us.

"The events that took place 500 years ago didn’t just impact Lutherans, but they had a huge impact on Roman Catholicism," he said. "It led to the Council of Trent, which was part of the Counter-Reformation and a response to the abuses that were, in fact, taking place.

"The church that we know today would be very different if it hadn’t been for the Counter-Reformation."

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