Joint Press Release on the Observation of the 4th Annual Vespers for Prayer for Creation

Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Faithful to Observe the Fourth Annual Great Vespers for the World Day of Prayer for Creation

The evening prayer service to be held on Friday, August 31, at 7 p.m.

Chicago, IL (August 27, 2018)– Heeding the calls of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox parishioners will come together to commemorate the fourth annual Great Vespers for the World Day of Prayer for Creation and uphold their tradition of environmental stewardship.

The Vespers service dates back to 1989 when the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I of Constantinople designated the First of September as a day of prayer for “the protection of the environment” for Orthodox Christians. This tradition has been continued by his successor, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. Sharing concern for creation with Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis acted in 2015 by instituting the first of September as the “Word Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” for Roman Catholics. 

Catholics recognize that Pope Francis’ inauguration of a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation highlights the crisis nature of the earth’s environmental problems.  

“Just as we annually pray for peace, or for migrants and refugees, the elevation of this observance to a World Day of Prayer calls us to consider the plight of the earth, along with the plight of nations and suffering individuals,” said Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima, Vicar for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago. “The World Day of Prayer is an acknowledgment of the role of the Greek Orthodox Church leading Christians to a new awareness of our joint obligation toward our world, which God created and declared to be good.” 

The Vespers Service will be presided over by Rev. Fr. Panagiotis Boznos, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church. Fr. Baima, representing Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, will be joining in prayer. A reception will follow the service with two featured speakers: Sr. Dawn M. Nothwehr, O.S.F., Ph.D. professor of Catholic Theological Ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and Jake Barnett, Institutional Consultant with Graystone Consulting. 

“As God’s children, we are beneficiaries of His vast and precious creation and, for that reason, we are called to be custodians responsible for the care of that creation,” said His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. “We are pleased to join our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters to show gratitude for creation and embrace continued resolve for Christian stewardship through prayer, education and action.”

The teachings of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato sí, petitioned individuals and communities to care for our common [earthly] home and thus respect the dignity of every human being, especially the poor, marginalized, and future generations. 

The encyclical for the Feast of the Indiction and Day of Protection for the Environment, issued by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, can be accessed here

The Great Vespers prayer service is not limited to Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, but is open to all in Chicagoland who are concerned about the environment. In particular, parishioners of SS. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, both in Glenview, are invited. The Vespers service will be held on Friday, August 31 at 7 p.m. at SS. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church, 1401 Wagner Road, Glenview, IL. 

About the Archdiocese of Chicago
The Archdiocese of Chicago, the third largest in the United States, serves more than 2.2 million Catholics in 344 parishes in Cook and Lake Counties, a geographic area of 1,411 square miles. The Archdiocese, pastored by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, has more than 15,000 employees in its systems and ministries, including Catholic Charities, the region's largest nonprofit social service agency. The Archdiocese also has one of the country's largest seminaries. The Archdiocese's 209 elementary and secondary schools comprise one of the largest U.S. private school systems and have garnered more U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Awards than any system of any type. 

About the Greek Orthodox Metropolis

Tracing its roots back to 1923, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis is the diocese of Greek Orthodox faithful in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin as well as northern Indiana and southeastern Missouri consisting of 58 parishes and two monastic communities. The Metropolis is one of nine Metropolises in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and is presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael. The general offices of the Metropolis are located in Chicago, Illinois.

Contacts:  

Susan Thomas
Archdiocese of Chicago
sthomas@archchicago.org
312.534.8318

Chris Varones
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago
chris.varones@aesopgroup.com
312-213-3887