Rev. Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba, WCC programme director for Unity, Mission, and Ecumenical Formation, delivering her reflection at the Ash Wednesday service with the participation of Focolare students at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, Switzerland, 14 February 2024.


Students learned about the WCC vision and strategy, discussed how social media can advance unity, and received an update on the Thursdays in Black campaign for a world free from rape and violence. 

This year, Ash Wednesday, according to the Western calendar, also fell on Valentines Day, prompting social media messages from Thursdays in Black that love heals—it never hurts.”

The Focolare guests participated in morning prayers at the WCC Chapel, where they prayed for the people and churches of Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Prayers also highlighted True Freedom,” a global resource from the WCC and the Clewer Initiative to prevent human trafficking.

Bishop Dr Munib Younan, bishop emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, reflected on “Water for peace in the Middle East region.” 

His reflection was the first installment in the WCC Lenten series Seven Weeks for Water.

During a noon prayer, Rev. Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba, WCC programme director for Unity, Mission, and Ecumenical Formation, reflected on the season of Lent. 

There is a great deal of injustice and oppression in our world today—far more than any one of us can resolve,” said Nalwamba. "However, if every Christian take injustice and oppression seriously, God would enable our collective commitment to make a difference.”

She also talked about authenticity. For an individual or a community's religious practices to be authentic, they must concern an interaction with God,” she said. Wealth enables generosity, and a generous heart has its sights set on God.”

Eighteen-year-old Iago Aives de Lucena, from Brazil, said he was grateful for his first-ever visit to the Ecumenical Centre. 

I think that I can work more to listen and to understand the difference between the different churches,” he said when asked what he would take away from his visit. 

Claire Ahabwe, a 27-year-old from Uganda, appreciated the feeling of unity. Its not about making each different from every other but making sure there is something that unifies all of us,” she said. The fact that people are living it here, its good enough to show that we can make it throughout the world—that everybody needs a kind person. Our differences do not have to break us; they just have to make us one.”

Prof. Dr Vasile-Octavian Mihoc, WCC programme executive for Ecumenical Relations and Faith and Order, expressed the joy of the visit. “It’s always wonderful to have Focolare students visit us at the Ecumenical Centre or Bossey,” he said. “Their deep connection to the ecumenical movement is rooted in a love-inspired spirituality, driven by a desire to expand fellowship within and beyond the church. Their presence on Ash Wednesday added warmth to our chapel's liturgy, marking the beginning of Lent with a beautiful symbol of unity and love, accompanying us towards the joy of Resurrection.”

Photo gallery of the Ash Wednesday service with Focolare students

Students group photo at the Unity tapestry

Group of Focolare students visiting the Ecumenical centre on 14 February, 2024.