Dilatato Corde 7:2
July – December, 2017
The annual meeting of the board of directors of the North American Commission of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue was held on October 6-9, 2016 at the community of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA. As part of the agenda, board members reported on their own interreligious activities throughout the year.
  • Fr. Michael Peterson, OSB, President of MID, said that the DVD, Strangers No More, has been shown both at Saint John’s University and Saint Thomas University with panel discussions following its viewing. He has also helped organize four panel discussions among Muslims and Christians in the local area.
  • Sr. Margaret Michaud, OSB, participated in four sessions of a study group using My Neighbor is Muslim, a resource provided by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. She also participated in an Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan feast) held in Saint Cloud, Minnesota.
  • Sr. Patricia Crowley, OSB, traveled to London in June and attended an international ‘Shi‘a conference. She had been invited to take part in the Monastic-Muslim dialogue in Iran, but was not able to obtain a visa.
  • Sr. Barbara Austin, OSB, spoke about her activities with the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, which promotes dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims. This organization is an advocate for diversity and inclusion, and provides diversity and leadership training.
  • Sr. Sarah Smedman, OSB, is on the Board of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and serves on the advisory committee of its Interreligious Forum which sponsored local events.
  • Br. Lawrence Morey, OCSO, mentioned that Gethsemani Abbey serves as a contact for Tibetans in Louisville.
  • Sr. Sarah Schwartzberg, OSB, has twice included interfaith material in weekends given to their oblates—one using Jewish, Christian, and Muslim stories about the prophet Jonah, and another on blessings in various religious traditions. Also, interfaith articles are sometimes included in her congregation’s magazine, Spirit&Life.
  • Sr. Robert Blough, OCSO, has had contact with the Dialogue Institute which advances dialogue engagement around the world, by supporting scholarship, training, and action.
  • Fr. David Bock, OCSO, said that a mosque is being built in Dubuque, IA, and that he has encouraged communication between his monastic community and members of the mosque.
  • Sr. Anne McCarthy, OSB, said that three Muslim women spoke in their chapel. There are also interfaith efforts made to end gun violence in the Erie area.

Sr. Anne gave another report on her trip to Rome in June, 2015. She participated in the Buddhist – Christian dialogue that was jointly organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Focolare, and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Sr. Anne was invited as president of DIMMID. The meeting included presentations from Buddhists and Catholics on different aspects of suffering and focused on looking for ways Catholics and Buddhists could work together to alleviate suffering. The participants were honored to be granted a private audience with Pope Francis.
Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, spoke to the Board members about involvement in the Global Peace Initiative of Women, which creates a joint platform for global healing and unity. It uses the feminine values of cooperation, inclusivity, and connection as a basis for mediation of social and religious tension in various areas of the world.
As for future dialogue plans of MID, we are cultivating oblates as advisors to the Board and plan to invite them to future MID gatherings as speakers and participants. Future gatherings of Monks in the West and Nuns in the West are also being planned.
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