It was fitting that Sunday 4 September was a gloriously hot and sunny day in the Algarve, in the south-west of Portugal, when St Vincent’s Anglican Chaplaincy in Praia da Luz, shared a service with their Roman Catholic hosts in the Church of Nossa Senhora da Luz for the annual patronal Festival of Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of Light).
The communion service, in Portuguese and English, was conducted by Padre Zé Manuel, the Catholic priest in Praia da Luz. Locum Chaplain Robert Ellis and Reader Bob Kelly took part in the service.
In his sermon was based on Luke 4: 25-33 and Father Robert reminded the congregation of the importance of complete commitment to God – whether Catholics or Anglicans we identified ourselves as friends of Jesus. Padre Zé reinforced that, stating that we are together in Jesus, travelling the same journey, drawing on His light and strength before he led prayers for Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and all priests, men and women, in our churches.
After the service Father Robert commended the ecumenical spirit between the congregations referring to it as ‘trail-blazing’, demonstrating the one ‘church’ spirit in Luz between Anglicans and Roman Catholics over the past 14 years.
Later in the day the statue of Nossa Senhora da Luz was paraded around the streets and celebrations continued late into the night with a concert, music and dancing.
Tricia Bechgaard from St Vincent’s says “Here in the Western Algarve we are lucky to be able to share and worship in the beautiful Catholic church situated almost on the beach in Praia da Luz. During the year we have several ecumenical services culminating in the Festival of Our Lady of Light, which serves to remind us that we are all one church and brothers and sisters in Christ.”