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Celebrating Beliefs

Jillian Toce ’13,  News Editor

The Feast of Faiths on Feb. 6 in the Rogers Center was a dialogue dinner facilitated by graduate fellows and undergraduate students.

This was the second Feast of Faiths on Merrimack’s campus.

Joseph Kelley, director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations and dean of experiential learning, welcomed attendees by asking how many people there are in the world, and the audience responded by saying, “Seven billion.” Kelley then said, “Out of the seven billion, there are six billion individuals who practice a religion.”

This event was hosted by the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations with the intention of celebrating the acceptance of religious diversity that is practiced at Merrimack College. Kelley told the audience, “If you’re a believer, we want you to believe and cherish your faith.” It is important to honor those who are different, whether it is a difference of religion, race, or sexuality.

The Feast of Faiths included a student reflection by Anna Ndambda ’14. Fr. Ray Dlugos, O.S.A. shared a unique blessing before dinner that included a story about his father.

Each individual who came to the event was placed randomly at a table and the facilitators led conversations about interfaith and intercultural topics. After dinner and the table conversations, Professor Mark Allman, led a recap of each table’s discussions. Allman said, “This is what it means to be Catholic.”

He said this in reference to interfaith dialogue as a whole and accepting the differences of individuals in this world. Students were then given the opportunity to do a written reflection at the end of the event.

When showing appreciation for the people who helped make the event a success, a special thank you was given to Kathy Vaillancourt, who was described as, “The heart and soul” of an event such as the Feast of Faiths. Vaillancourt serves the college as assistant director of experiential learning.

The Jewish, Christian, Muslim Relations minor is the only such program in any college institution in the world. If you are interested in learning more about the minor, contact Allman at allmanm@merrimack.edu.

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