About fifty people met in Sankt-Niklausen, homeland of Nicolas de Flue, in the center of Bethanien, for the 38th “International and Interfaith Meeting of religious men and women” (EIIR), from July 6 to 12, 2022. This year marked the jubilee of this ecumenical association which changed its name. From now on it will be called “Synaxis”. On this occasion a richly illustrated book was published, tracing its history, with some key conferences.
To reflect on this year’s theme, “the consecrated life at the service of Christian Unity”, several lectures were given, among others, by Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle (Vatican), Archbishop Job of Telmessos (Ecumenical Patriarchate), Sister Anne-Emmanuelle of Grandchamp, Mother Gabriela of Romanian monastery of Voronets, Dom Michel Van Parys (Chevetogne), Fr. Claude Ducarroz, Fr. Guido Vergauen (Institute for Ecumenical Studies, Fribourg) and Pastor Jean-Philippe Calame (Evangelical Reformed Church of Neuchâtel). Among the Orthodox participants there was also Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium (president of the EIIR), Metropolitan Seraphim from the Orthodox Church of Romania in Germany, and Fathers Philadelphos Kafalis and Emilianos Chatzivasiliou from the Holy Metropolis of Belgium.
The conference was also an opportunity to remember the founders of these meetings: the Orthodox Metropolitan Emilianos Timiadis (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Father Julian Garcia Hernando, Spanish Catholic. Their meeting was decisive and the result was the creation of “Encuentro International e Interconfesional de Religiosas y de Religiosos” (EIIR) where they linked deep friendships with communities across Europe. The importance of religious life for Christian unity had clearly become a priority for them.