The diversity of different student and faith practitioners coming together around the similar goals of love, peace, unity and discourse make a beautiful contribution to the University’s Catholic/Jesuit tradition of inclusiveness and care for all. The efforts made to find common ground and relate to one another from that place are encouraging to be a part of, particularly for me.
Not many years ago, as a seminarian at Howard University School of Divinity, I recall not being very open to the idea of different faiths coming together for any cause. In fact, when my World Religion professor informed us that we would be required to visit the service of a faith tradition different then our own, I thought he was crossing some “perceived” line and questioned the necessity of such an assignment. I begrudgingly obliged, for the sake of my grade, and visited a local Sikh temple in Maryland as well as a Jewish synagogue there. When the Sikhs lovingly greeted me at the door and insisted that I stay for food and fellowship afterward, I knew this was the beginning of a new level of understanding for me.
It suffices to say that, in retrospect, these two experiences, among others, were transformational in my thinking and approach to interfaith dialogue. It was beautiful to witness other religious traditions practice their faith in a manner that was sacred, devout and yet familiar to me in many ways. It reminded me that together, we have more in common than we may think.
The interfaith and community service season is in full gear on campus these days with a plethora of activities scheduled between now and the semester’s end. Take some time to avail yourself to some of the opportunities being offered to celebrate the link between faith and service, perhaps with a tradition different then your own. I promise you will be the richer for it.