“That they all may be one” John 17:21 – “Ut Omnes Unum Sint”

“A very old concept to be explored for all of the possibilities to be found within it to be used and applied generously in our world today.”

John 17:21

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

– 1769 Oxford King James Bible “Authorized Version”

That they all may be one

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Medallion of the Collège de France featuring the phrase “Ut Omnes Unum Sint”, Latin for That they all may be one.

That they all may be one is a phrase derived from a verse in the Bible at John 17:21, which says:

that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”.

The phrase forms the basis of several ecumenical movements and united and uniting denominational traditions. It is also a common sermon topic on church unity.

The phrase is the official motto of the Church of South India. The Latin version, Ut Omnes Unum Sint, is the motto of the World Student Christian Federation, the University of Mainz and the YMCA. The United Church of Christ has the same motto except for a change in the place of one word: “That they may all be one.”


We have been called

The phrase is also the motto of the Graymoor Friars, The Society of the Atonement. They have used this phrase for over 100 years to describe the apostolate of the order. The Society of The Atonement started the worldwide observance of “The Church Unity Octave.” The work of this Roman Catholic, Franciscan, religious order is Ecumenism.[1]



Mission Statement - Franciscan Friars of the Atonement

Pope John Paul II published an encyclical under the Vulgate form this title, Ut Unum Sint.


It is also one of two mottos of Spalding Grammar School in Lincolnshire, England. [Ironically, this is the location from which my ancestors originated]

It is the motto of Achimota School located in Accra,Ghana


I saw this motto posted on the wall at the Mother House of the Sisters of Loretto in Nerinx, KY      http://www.lorettocommunity.org/faith-spirituality/retreat-centers/
Holy Wisdom Monastery and Retreat Center near Madison, WI posted the motto “That we may all be one”

“The purpose of any act determines its objective good.  In the same way, the purpose for collegiality determines its objective worth and demands an application that advances that purpose.  And so, we can only understand collegiality if we understand its purpose–that is, continuing the work of salvation here on earth by dispensing the mercy and grace of God obtained by Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary through teaching truth, ruling through service, and sanctifying with generosity.  And, the College of Bishops exercise collegiality only within the broader group to which they belong and serve, namely, the People of God.”

( Source Vatican Documents/USCCB)
Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs (source: USCCB)

  • “The Catholic Church embraces with hope the commitment to ecumenism as a duty of the Christian conscience enlightened by faith and guided by love…Jesus himself, at the hour of his Passion, prayed ‘that they may all be one’ (Jn 17:21). This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission. Nor is it some secondary attribute of the community of his disciples. Rather, it belongs to the very essence of this community.”- Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, May 25, 1995.
  • “I would encourage sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, for only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions, and, above all, to make progress towards a theological evaluation of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Address in Cologne Synagogue, August 19, 2005
  • “It is my ardent hope that Muslim and Christian religious leaders and teachers will present our two great religious communities as communities in respectful dialogue, never more as communities in conflict.”- Pope John Paul II, Meeting with Muslim Leaders in Omayyad Great Mosque, Damascus, May 6, 2001.

No matter who we are, we belong to a family unit of some kind. We are part of a greater community of humanity. Some people refer to their “church home” as an extension of their life as being part of a nuclear family unit. Then there is the nuclear family itself whose real purpose is to share the experience of giving love and for how to receive love in return. It is on this concept upon which the foundation of society exists: Loving and Being Loved. We learn this as children and carry it with us all of our lives in how we relate to the greater community of humanity which is our family.

Theme 5: Foundation of the Family and Society     ( Source USCCB)                                           Relationship to Lived Experience 


Whenever he heard an ambulance siren, he offered a prayer for those involved in the accident or medical emergency. When the family pet passed away, she took care to bury it lovingly in the garden. Their Catholic faith was evident in the artwork on the walls and in the simple prayers offered at table and at bedtime. They celebrated the anniversary of each child’s Baptism with ice cream sundaes, and they always managed to pull together a group of neighbors for Christmas caroling. Their children saw and treasured these rituals of family life.

Discussion Questions 

1. Tell about a tradition or ritual you have in your home that you and your children enjoy celebrating each year, perhaps on a holiday or special occasion. Why does your family love doing this? ( The why may be the most important part of the answer.)

2. What does your family do that brings you together?

3. What opportunities for passing on your faith are uniquely present in family life (opportunities that don’t usually happen at church)?  (This is truly an opportunity for interchurch families to explore)

4. What things or actions remind you of God’s presence in your home and family? ( Our lives are holy; we are holy; creation is holy and now for your response….)

Journaling Questions 

1. List three lessons you have learned from being a parent. How has parenthood strengthened your faith?

This question could be expanded, perhaps using the concept based perhaps on what it means to be a parent who nurtures a helpless person into becoming a competent, independent and responsible adult. Our lives provide us with many opportunities to nurture what is good: please see Philippians 4:8 -9

 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

9 What you have learned and wreceived and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and ythe God of peace will be with you.

 w =  1 Thessalonians 4:1

A Life Pleasing to God

4 Finally, then, brothers,1 we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you dreceived from us ehow you ought to walk and fto please God, just as you are doing, that you gdo so more and more.

Philippians 3:17

17 Brothers, ujoin in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk vaccording to the example you have in us.

Philippians 4:7

7 And uthe peace of God, vwhich surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:33

33 May othe God of peace be with you all. Amen.


2. What would you like to do differently as a family? What one step can you take right now? 

3. In your home, identify some reminders of God’s presence. What can you add to or change about your home to increase your awareness of God in your daily life? 

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