Each year, there are two major feasts in late January:
- January 18, the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter
- January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
In the northern hemisphere, these two feasts traditionally bookend an eight day period known as the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. (In the southern hemisphere, where January is often a period of vacation, many churches find other times to celebrate, usually around Pentecost.)
It is during this week that Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17:21). Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. At Saint Thomas, we often have a guest preacher from another Christian tradition preach on the Sunday that falls within this week. In 2015, January 18 and January 25 are themselves Sundays, so therefore Christian Unity is celebrated on the second of those two Sundays, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.
So on January 25, Fr Austin will preach at 11am, because he has served on the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the U.S.A. in recent years. At 4pm, we welcome as a guest preacher the Most Reverend John O’Hara, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York.