World Days of Prayer and social concern

In recent years, particular days / weeks have been named as times of prayer for specific causes.   These are extra to the regular liturgical calendar which is based on the events in Jesus life, particular devotions and saint's feast days.

Ususally these are for particular issues that are important to the church or causes that the church wants to promote. Some are specifically Roman Catholic (decided by the Pope or Vatican II), while others are suggested by ecumenical bodies. Some are even promoted by secular organisations - and paying is the church's response to them.   And some are very local: decisions are made by local bishops, and apply in that area only,  Even for world-wide observances, local bishops sometimes change the dates for their countries.

There does not appear to be any central list of these days, or even a pattern to which days-of-prayer are observed in each country.   Check your local liturgical calendar for the ones that apply in your local diocese or country.   That said generally a "World Day of Prayer for .." was declared by the Pope and applies worldwide.   However whether or not these days are celebrated in local communities usually depends on the interest and enthusiasm of individual people.

The following lists the more common special prayer days/weeks in English-speaking countries. It is sorted according to the church-year, with Advent events listed first.

Days / weeks of prayer and special concern

Bible Sunday Sunday

2nd Sunday of Advent, or the Sunday after Pentecost

International Migrants’ Day

A United Nations observance - 18 December

Expectant Mothers

The 4th Sunday in Advent

World Day of Peace

Usually 1 January
In the UK and England, this is observed as Peace Day Sunday on the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time.)

Octave/Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 

18–25 January (the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul). But some areas observe it at Pentecost or other times.    Hymn suggestions.

World Day of Migrants and Refugees

January (date varies).   Hymn suggestions.

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

22 January (or 23rd if the 22nd is a Sunday)

Holocaust Memorial Day

Varies between countries.  Most common date is 27 January,  in Europe.

World Day of Leprosy 

Last Sunday in January

World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life

On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, 2 February.

Day of Prayer Against Human Trafficking

On the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, 8 February
(Previously called the Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking)

World Day for the Sick

11 February.    Hymn suggestions

Valentines Day

14 February. This is a purely secular observance (Valentine was never officially canonised), but is marked by many churches.    Hymn suggestions

Day of Prayer for Temperance

Date set annually by the Irish bishops, between Feb - April.   See - Hymns about Temperance

International Mother Language Day

21 February - a UNESCO commemoration, promoting preservation and protection of the approximately 7,000 languages that are spoken throughout the world.
In many countries, there is a local-language day or week which would be marked instead of this.

Education Day 

3 Sundays before the 1st Sunday of Lent

Day for the Unemployed

Sunday before thee 1st Sunday of Lent

Women’s World Day of Prayer

1st Friday in March

Lent Fast Day 

Friday, 1st week of Lent


25 April.    Hymn suggestions

Mayday / Workers rights

Feast day of St Joseph the Worker, 1 May.     Hymn suggestions

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Good Shepherd Sunday, the 4th Sunday of the Easter season.

International Nurses Day

12 May - To remember and celebrate the service given by members of the nursing profession.   Hymn suggestions.

Day of Prayer for the Church in China

Feast day of Mary, Help of Christians, 24 May

World Communications Day

The Sunday before Pentecost

World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests

The Feast of the Sacred Heart, 19 days after Pentecost

World Day of Migrants and Refugees

A day is nominated each year, some sources say it is "as close as possible " to the United Nations observance of World Day of Refugees on 20 June. However in recent years it has occurred in August / September.   Hymn suggestions.

Sea Sunday

Second Sunday in July.   Hymn suggestions.

Day for Life

Last Sunday in July, or October in some countries

World Day against Trafficking in Persons

A United Nations observance - is 30 July

World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

1 September.   Introduced in 2015.     Hymn suggestions.

Creation Time

1 September - 4 October
It was recommended by  representatives of Europe’s Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches at the Third European Ecumenical Assembly (2007) that this time be
‘... dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change.’ 

Racial Justice Day

2nd Sunday in September

International Peace Day

21st September

Home Mission Day, Back to Church Sunday 

3rd Sunday in September

The Harvest

Sunday between 22–28 September, or whenever local Harvest Festivals are held.    Hymn suggestions.

World Tourism Day

27 September

World Food Day

16 October. (A United Nations observance)

Harvest Fast Day 

1st Friday in October

Day of Prayer for Prisoners and their Dependants 

2nd Sunday in October

World Mission Day / Mission Sunday

Second to last (penultimate) Sunday in October.   Hymn suggestions.

Remembrance Day

2nd Sunday in November.   Hymn suggestions

World Day for the Poor

An initiative started by Pope Francis at the end of the Year of Mercy.   Marked on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary time in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar.   Usually this is the 3rd or 3th Sunday in Nobember:   it is  19 November in 2017.

Prisoners’ Sunday/Restorative Justice Week

One week during November

World AIDS day

1 December

World Choral Day

2nd Sunday in December:   this is an international event which extols the values of solidarity, peace and understanding, by showing that
"our choral family contributes through music to break down the artificial barriers of politics, ideologies, religions, and racial hatred that separate human beings”.  
(Alberto Grau at the launch of the International Federation of Choral Music's World Choral Day, 1990).

World Youth Day (WYD)

This is a worldwide encounter with the Pope and is celebrated every two-three years in a different country - with the date chosen to suit the seasons and climate of that country.  Some local churches have Youth Day on the feasts of Palm Sunday or Christ the King.

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