Each year, the Friars organize and help promote the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a time when Christian communities pray and share ideas for ecumenical education and celebration. In 1908, from January 18 - 25, Servant of God Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, and Mother Lurana White, SA, co-founders of the Society of the Atonement, celebrated the first Church Unity Octave, eight days of prayers and seminars for Christian unity. The Founders wrote letters and articles encouraging others to pray with them "that all may be one ... that the world may believe" (John 17:21). In the late 1960s, the Octave joined other prayer movements to form what is now observed worldwide as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Each year a new theme is chosen.
The theme for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Abide in My Love...You Shall Bear Much Fruit." It was discerned by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland and finds its origins in the Gospel of John (cf. John 15:5-9). In choosing the theme, the community desired to share the experience and wisdom of their contemplative life abiding in the love of God and keeping his commandment of "loving one another as He has loved us." They wanted to remind Christians worldwide about the importance of praying for the fruits of closer communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ and greater solidarity with the whole of creation.
In choosing the theme, they prepared working drafts of the background and worship materials. These were subsequently finalized at Granchamp in September 2019 during an international group meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the International Committee of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.
Each year, following the selection of the theme, the Friars' Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII) adapts the texts chosen. Then publishes a full suite of print and digital materials and resources for use in celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the U.S.
In reflection on the 2021 theme, Fr. James Loughran, SA, GEII Director said, "In these days of the Coronavirus threat, our world has become smaller. We are one in our response. More than ever, we need to appreciate the value of Christian unity. Jesus gave his life for all, out of his love. To abide in his love reminds us that we live in a community celebrating our gift of unity."