By Hureem Salas
ROME — Hureem Salas is an active parishioner of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Rome. She grew up in Pakistan, where she attended Catholic schools and came to Rome for further studies
She was one of two young people to share their meaningful ecumenical experiences at an event co-organized by The Lay Centre and Centro Pro Unione for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The event included a conference by ecumenist Dr. Paula Gooder on the theme, “Walking on the Way: Accompanying young people on the journey towards Christian Unity.” Read Salas’ inspiring testimony below.
I'm very thankful to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, for giving all of us this wonderful opportunity of making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, as mentioned by St. Paul in Ephesians (Eph 4:3).
Everyone of us, present here, belongs to one of the seven different continents of the world, yet, it’s only one name, the name of Jesus that has united us all together.
I am Hureem Salas from Pakistan. Christians make up approximately 2 percent of the population, besides, there are several Catholic academic institutions. By the grace of God Almighty, I was able to receive my education from Presentation Convent School that was founded by Nano Nagle, also known as “Lady with the Lantern.” She was the founder of the Presentation Sisters in Ireland and was declared venerable in the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Francis in 2013.
She wanted the spiritual and temporal welfare of the pupils to be interwoven and to flow naturally together. Implementation of this aim helped me in keeping God first in everything. As a result, it increased my faith and elevated my purpose. During the religious feast days, the Christian students and staff used to attend services at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, this is how I got acquainted with the Roman Catholic Church.
Last year, during the Synod of Bishops, I met my cardinal from Pakistan, His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Coutts. He talked about uplifting the Christians in Pakistan and making this bond of unity even stronger. This can be done by learning the system from here, and teaching the church and youth back home. It gave me a new direction to work for the Christians who are denied access economically, politically, socially and educationally to the rights and means that would have raised them from poverty and oppression. This amazing encounter encouraged me, and prompted the words of St. Paul to the Thessalonians (1Th 5:11). Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Now talking about the relationship between Anglicans and Catholics in February 2017, Pope Francis made history by becoming the first Roman pontiff to visit the Anglican church of All Saints, in the whole history of the papacy. The event was organised by the church team, under the supervision of my chaplain, Rev. Canon Jonathan Boardman and Rev. Dana English the Lady Priest. Pope Francis in his homily acknowledged that Anglicans and Catholics “viewed each other with suspicion and hostility in past centuries. We are now able to recognize that the fruitful grace of Christ is also at work in other Christians.” He added, “This recognition brings with it a responsibility to spread the Gospel in this city of Rome, together.”
At this historic service with the pope, I was asked to write and share my own prayer for sick people around the world. And I'm thankful to God for this incredible moment of leading all Christians together in prayer.
The following month, on March 2017, for the first time ever, Anglican Choral Evensong was celebrated at the altar of the Chair of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome was Archbishop David Moxon, and Father Marcus deputy director. The gesture reflects the deepening bonds of affection and trust between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. Moreover I was given the opportunity to read the second Bible lesson from the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians (1Th 2:3-8). Paul described that, “We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel,” and that “we don’t seek glory from men, but from God alone.”
For me to stand on the altar that has born witness to some of the most important events in Church history, reminded me (of) the words of the psalmist (Ps 113:7-8): God raises the poor out of the dust, (And) lifts the needy out of the ash heap, That He may seat (him) with princes — With the princes of His people.
In order to be integrated into this bond of unity on a weekly basis, me along with other youth fellows, are able to start a Bible study group that runs on a weekly basis. Bible group study is so effective that Jesus used it to train the men who would be known as the Apostles. Our main objective is to concentrate on the essentials of the faith, without any denominational differences.
Fellows from Anglican, Episcopal, Baptist, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, including visitors, have joined us to study God’s Word. It revives us spiritually, which helps us to serve more effectively in our individual churches. The Word of God changes our perspectives and insights, increases our faith, and its application transforms our lives.
Together, on weekly basis, we celebrate life’s victories, get prayer support, are encouraged in tough times, identify and express the spiritual gifts, in order to be better equipped to live and share the Gospel with those around us.
Today, I want to encourage the young adults to actively play their God-given role in the extensive Body of Christ. When God created the body of Adam out of the dust, it was having all the different systems in it, but still it was dead, until God breathed the breath of life, and Adam became a living being. Likewise, because of sin, we all are spiritually dead. Only the Holy Spirit can make us spiritually alive, otherwise it would be like the scientists who are struggling hard to make their own human being from scratch, they can make the body organs, from the available materials, but from which source they will put life in it? Jesus said, “The Words that I speak are Spirit.” When we fill our minds and hearts with the Word of God, it automatically fills us with the Holy Spirit. Paul says: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:4-6).
As Dr. Paula, mentioned the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, their eyes where open and they could see their sinful nature. The connection with God was lost. But when Jesus broke the bread, the Holy Communion, His own living body, the bread of life, and gave it to the disciples, their eyes were open and they could see the Holy God once again. That lost connection was revived. When our connection with God is revived, then our connection with each other is also revived. God bless you all!