WASHINGTON (July 31, 1997) -- The first Institute for Interreligious Leadership, under the joint sponsorship of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Officers, the network of Catholic diocesan personnel engaged in ecumenical and interreligious affairs, was held at Lakeshore Campus of Loyola University, Chicago, July 15-24. Twenty persons now engaged in the church's ministry of interreligious relations enrolled for this first institute. Bishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, Secretary of the Holy See's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Dr. John Borelli, NCCB Director for Interreligious Relations, directed the participants through three sessions each day which included scheduled visits to places of worship. The participants also discussed current issues and programs of dialogue and studied church documents from the past 30 years, just edited into a single volume, Interreligious Dialogue: the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church (Pauline Books and Media, 1997).
The group visited a mosque during Friday prayers and engaged in discussions with Muslim leadership about concerns of American Muslims, especially to be understood correctly, and particular areas for dialogue and cooperation, such as topics related to family life. The visit to the Hindu temple took place on a Sunday afternoon, the day when Hindus in America choose to visit the temple for special rites and for prayer. The site selected in Lemont, Illinois, has two temples which were built according to authentic standards and the visit afforded an opportunity for the participants to discuss Hindu modes of prayer and worship. A Jodo-Shinshu Buddhist temple, which is most typical of East Asian Buddhism, was selected for a visit. Among the topics raised in the general sessions of the institute were: the relationship between dialogue and mission, multireligious prayer services, interreligious marriages, suggestions for preparations for the Jubilee Year 2000, and specific challenges for interreligious relations in the United States.
Since 1981, the BCEIA and NADEO have co-sponsored eight Institutes for Ecumenical Leadership. Designed for approximately 20-25 participants working together over a ten day period, these institutes have trained the majority of diocesan officers now active in ecumenical relations. The 1997 institute was the first one entirely devoted to interreligious relations.
Participants this year included: the Rev. Philip Altavilla (Scranton), Sr. Mary C. Gerrior, OP (Lubbock), Sr. Josephine Kase, IHM (Philadelphia), the Rev. Philip Latronico (Newark), the Rev. Paul Lee (Washington), Judith Longdin (Milwaukee), the Rev. Michael J. Lynch (Brooklyn), the Rev. Francis X. Mazur (Buffalo), Garland Pohl (Galveston-Houston), the Rev. Jose Rubio (San Jose), the Rev. Michael Shugrue (Raleigh), Loretta Tracey (Tucson), David R. Wilson (Lafayette-in-Indiana), and Sr. Joan M. McGuire, OP, the Rev. Thomas Baima, and Sr. Mary Ellen Coombe, NDS--all from the Archdiocese of Chicago. In addition, Julian von Duerbeck, OSB (St. Procopius Abbey and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue), Tom Sherrard (interreligious assistant to Bishop DiAngelis, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto), and the Rev. Philippe Thibodeau and Sr. Diane Willey, NDS--both with the Canadian Center for Ecumenism, attended the institute. Assisting Bishop Fitzgerald and Dr. Borelli for special sessions were the Rev. John Pawlikowski, the Catholic Theological Union and an experienced participant and author in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations, and Professor Donald Mitchell, Purdue University, BCEIA consultor in Buddhist relations and participant in a 1995 dialogue with Buddhist sponsored by the Holy See.
For more information, contact:
Dr. John Borelli, NCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, 202 541-3020
The Rev. Francis X. Mazur, Co-chair, NADEO Faiths in the World Committee, 716 773-7647