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Commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Five hundred years ago this year, Martin Luther, German professor of theology, composer and Catholic priest made his 95 Theses known to the world. In doing so, he opened up for debate many of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church and launched the Protestant Reformation which spread throughout Europe.

"Martin Luther’s struggle with God drove and defined his whole life. The question, 'How can I find a gracious God?' plagued him constantly. He found the gracious God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 'True theology and the knowledge of God are in the crucified Christ.'" (excerpt from From Conflict to Communion, foreward)
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation opens further the door for Lutherans and Catholics to undertake "a common journey of reconciliation. In the context of the commemoration of the Reformation of 1517, we have a new opportunity to accept a common path, one that has taken shape over the past fifty years in the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another." (excerpt from Pope Francis' homily at a service in Sweden for the anniversary of the Reformation, Oct. 2016)  

Key Events with Bishop David Walkowiak - Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017

3 p.m. - Common Prayer for the Ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation with Bishop Craig A. Satterlee

at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew  (301 Sheldon Blvd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503)  
The North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church worked with the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids to plan this joint ecumenical observance in the style of the Common Prayer service held in Lund, Sweden. This event highlighted the 50 years of continuous ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans and the gifts of this collaboration.  An ecumenical choir provided music for the service.
Rev. Craig Alan Satterlee is the bishop of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  

Additional events around the diocese to mark the Reformation anniversary 

Ecumenical Art Show

Oct. 2-31
at the Catholic Information Center (360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids, MI 49503)
During regular CIC hours: Mon – Thurs, 9a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
During October, the Catholic Information Center will be one of several sites participating in a 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Art Show. The exhibit celebrates the Catholic Lutheran commitment to making the unifying power of God’s love visible in this divided world. Artists from Aquinas, Calvin, Kendall, and other area colleges, along with local Catholic and Christian High Schools will be invited to share their art work that communicates the theme “Renewed in Word, Faith and Grace.” The exhibit will be open during regular CIC business hours from October 2-31.

What Can Catholics and Protestants Learn from One Another Today? A Conversation Upon the Occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Thursday, Oct. 5
7 p.m.
at the Calvin College Chapel (1835 Knollcrest Cir. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546)

Watch video of the panel discussion

Hope College Professor and Saint Benedict Institute Executive Director Dr. Jared Ortiz joined Bishop David J. Walkowiak, bishop of Grand Rapids; Dr. Karin Maag of Calvin College; and Dr. Ronald Feenstra of Calvin Theological Seminary to discuss Catholic-Protestant relations on the occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Is the Catholic Counter-Reformation Over? (Reformation 500 Holland lecture series)

Sunday, Oct. 8
7 p.m.
at Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church (14 W. 14th St., Holland, MI 49423) 

Read a summary of this event

The Saint Benedict Institute co-sponsored Dr. Eduardo Echeverria’s talk, “Is the Catholic Counter-Reformation Over?,” part of the Reformation 500 Holland lecture series. Dr. Echeverria is a professor of philosophy and theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. 

Reformation Conference

Monday, Oct. 30, 7-9 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 31, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church (2250 East Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546)

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids will host a Reformation Conference to mark the anniversary. The conference will reflect on the ramifications of the Reformation and continue dialogue on mutual understanding and unity.

The conference is free to attend but you are being asked to register by Oct. 27 if you plan on coming for lunch on Tuesday.

Dr. Jack Mulder, Hope College associate professor of Philosophy and Saint Benedict Institute associate director and co-founder, will be part of the Response Forum on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m.

Fr. Scott Nolan, pastor of St. Stephen Parish in East Grand Rapids, will be part of the Response Forum on Tuesday at 11:15 a.m.

Catholic Lutheran Dialogue

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Guest Speakers: Rev. Brian Daley, SJ  and Dr. Kathryn Johnson
at the Catholic Information Center (360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids, MI 49503)
Please pre-register by email at or call 616-459-7267
Father Daley and Dr. Johnson will be discussing the issues and agreements reached in a recent ecumenical task force dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans. As members of this task force, “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist”, they are uniquely qualified to talk about the 32 consensus statements that came out of the task force as well as remaining differences and suggesting ways forward to greater unity.
Rev. Brian E. Daley, SJ, is a Jesuit priest.  He is currently the Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and was the recipient of a Ratzinger Prize for Theology in 2012.  He has been involved in the North American Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue since 1981, and was recently part of the ecumenical commission that created the Lutheran-Catholic document, “Declaration on the Way.”
Dr. Kathryn Johnson has been director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America church wide office since 2015.  She has worked also at the Lutheran World Federation office in Geneva and as a church historian at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Note: Programs listed above through the Catholic Information Center are co-sponsored by the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, the Catholic Information Center, Christ Lutheran Church, the Diocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Grand Rapids Lutheran Conference, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, and Trinity Lutheran Church.