January 2015

From 2015-01-24 to 2015-02-16


Yves Alarie, for the past ten years pastor of the Metropolitan Christian Centre (MCC) in Montreal, clarifies certain things right from the start: There are many different Protestant churches in North America, including many that aren’t officially recognized and registered. So I don’t speak on behalf of ALL Protestants, but on behalf of only one church, the MCC, which has no denominational affiliation, meaning that it’s independent, even though it is a member of a network of Evangelical Churches. You can well imagine that among us Protestants, perfect harmony doesn’t exactly reign, even within a single denomination.

Learning how to talk to each other, listen to each other, develop an interest in each other, and discover each other’s riches—in other words ecumenism—is second nature to Yves Alarie. I feel I have a calling! God gave me talent for building bridges between different Christian communities based on what we have in common. Like a chameleon, I can easily move from one Christian milieu to another.

The most important thing about ecumenism is always to be aware that every Christian tradition, every Church, has its strengths and weaknesses; none of us has everything, or owns everything. When you realize that, you create a healthy interdependence. I want to teach the people around me to open themselves to others and to appreciate the hidden treasures of the other Churches.

This pastor hasn’t done things halfway: when you receive His call, you answer! That’s how he became one of the founders of UQAM’s ecumenical pastoral centre (the Iktus2 Centre). He was on the board of Directors for the Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture. He has visited and is sometimes invited by new Catholic communities, assists in Alpha courses, and has given occasional talks to groups of young Catholics in Montreal. He has also been invited to preach during the Eucharist celebration in several Catholic communities. In collaboration with groups of young Catholics, the MCC organized an evening with Jean Vanier, who is largely unknown in the Protestant world.

These are the kinds of things that break down prejudices. Interconfessional encounters, such as the “Jesus Cool” event3 or retreats at the Saint-Benoit-du-Lac Abbey, help young Protestants to discover, for example, the contemplative tradition, a form of prayer that is not very well known in Evangelical Christian communities. All these initiatives generally occur in small groups or in one-on-one situations. They’re the best way to bring faith to life. We have to build bridges based on what we have in common: the Nicene Creed or the moral and ethical issues we have to deal with in the contemporary world.

The Protestant Churches have a strength that is proper to them, that of freedom of expression and interpretation. This allows them to study the Word and to proclaim the Gospel in a unique way. Catholics can only gain by sharing in turn what is unique to them: their experience of contemplation and social justice. It’s up to each one of us to take up the challenge.

2 IKTUS is the Greek word for “fish”. The symbol and the five letters that make up the word allowed the early Christians to identify themselves. It was a sort of acronym that summed up their profession of faith in Jesus Christ Son of the Saving God:
I = Iessous (Jesus) - CH = CHristos (Christ) - TH = THeou (God) - Y = hYios (Son) - S = Soter (Saviour)