WASHINGTON (August 15, 2000) -- The second Institute for Interreligious Leadership, under the joint sponsorship of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (BCEIA) and the National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (NADEO), the network of Catholic diocesan personnel engaged in ecumenical and interreligious relations, was held at Loyola at the Cenacle, Chicago, July 18-27, 2000. Seventeen persons devoted to the church's ministry of interreligious relations enrolled for this institute. Bishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, Secretary of the Holy See's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Dr. John Borelli, Director for Interreligious Relations at the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Fr. Thomas A. Baima, assistant professor of systematic theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake–Mundelein Seminary, directed the participants through three sessions each day and scheduled visits to places of worship. The 50 contact hours were certified by the University of St. Mary of the Lake–Mundelein Seminary.
Participants discussed current issues and programs of dialogue and studied church documents on interreligious relations and reports of significant interreligious dialogues from the past 30 years. The group visited the mosque at the Islamic College of North America in Chicago, for Friday prayers and engaged in discussions with Professor Asad Husain, the President of the college and Dr. Hamid A. Hai, who delivered the sermon at that Friday's Jum`ah prayers. They also visited the Balagi Hindu temple on a Sunday afternoon in Aurora for a tour and discussion of Hindu rituals and beliefs with Mr. Dorai, a temple member. Hindus in North America often choose to visit a temple on Sundays for special rites and prayer. The Buddhadharma Meditation Center and monastery in Hinsdale was the site of a visit on Monday afternoon. There the participants engaged in dialogue with the Ven. Ajahn Banyat, the abbot, and his monks practicing in the Theravada tradition. The group also visited the Baha`i House of Worship in Wilmette for a program and lecture by Dr. Robert Stockman and a tour of the temple and grounds. Before each visit, there was an introductory session on that particular faith tradition and discussion of various aspects of relations with members of that tradition. Other topics raised in the general sessions of the institute were: the relationship between dialogue and mission, religious pluralism, multireligious prayer services, interreligious marriages, the relationship between ecumenism and interreligious relations, new religious movements, and the benefits and challenges for interreligious relations in the United States.
Among the resource persons who assisted with the institute were: Fr. John Pawlikowski, Catholic Theological Union, who lectured on developments in relations between Catholics and Jews, Professor Donald Mitchell, Purdue University, whose specialty is Buddhism and Buddhist-Christian relations, and Fr. Julian Von Duerbeck, O.S.B., St. Procopius Abbey, who spoke on the principles and modes for interreligious services of prayer.
Since 1981, the BCEIA and NADEO have co-sponsored many summer institutes designed to prepare diocesan staff for ecumenical and interreligious relations. The institute this summer was entirely devoted to interreligious relations. An added feature this year was the certification of the institute by the University of St. Mary of the Lake.
Participants this year included eleven from diocesan staff and clergy: Deacon Charles W. Clark (Harrisburg), Fr. Charles R. Dautremont (Grand Rapids), Sr. Therese Dion, S.S.A. (Worcester), Msgr. Thomas L. Dzielak (Rockford), Fr. Robert B. Flannery (Belleville), Ms. Rita S. George (Chicago), Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh (Savannah), Fr. David J. Kriss (Pittsburgh), Fr. Rafael Luévano (Orange), Fr. Damian MacPherson, S.A. (Toronto), and Fr. Lee A. Piché (St. Paul/Minneapolis). One participant staffs the Paulist Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Fr. Thomas Ryan, CSP. Five participants were funded by Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, a network of Benedictine houses of men and women promoting interreligious dialogue and relations: Andrew Britz, O.S.B. (St. Peter's Abbey, Saskatchewan), Mary Margaret Funk, O.S.B. (Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Indiana), Mary Melady, O.S.B. (St. Scholastica Monastery, Illinois), Gregory Perron, O.S.B. (St. Procopius Abbey, Illinois), and Jerome Werth, O.S.B. (Conception Abbey, Missouri).
For more information, contact:
Dr. John Borelli, NCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, 202 541-3020
The Rev. Thomas A. Baima, The University of St. Mary of the Lake–Mundelein Seminary, 847 970-4866.