“In the Spirit of St. Vincent DePaul and embedded in the Four Ways of Dialogue at DePaul University, DePaul Interfaith Scholars create a culture that fosters interreligious dialogue and promotes multicultural awareness and a rich, lively, diverse faith life at DePaul. They are leaders grounded in their own traditions who create a strong community of DePaul interfaith-engaged students who work together on mutual understanding and shared social action.”
Wisdom from the 2011-2012 Scholars
1. How do we engage in authentic dialogue?
“In my interreligious work I will challenge myself to share who I am as a child of God, openly, truthfully, honestly, and humbly with others. I will seek moments in which I may ask others to hold my heart and not be afraid to ask the question of how I may hold theirs.”
“What does it mean to be courageous? To have the courage to face ourselves, to walk the spiritual path, to do God’s work in creation, to listen to others, to recognize truth, and to overcome the desires of our egos.”
“Interreligious engagement is rarely authentic, because few people are afraid to know and share their true self…this engagement must be a sharing of the journey to this Self, it must come from a deep core of our being. We must move beyond a dialogicial incubation and into experiences of live and action, but this is only possible if we communally share in the rawness of human vulnerability.”
“Becoming transparent with oneself can unknowingly help and free others from personal bondage.”
“When engaging in interfaith activities, the people must feel as if their hands are held together and that not a single number of the group can proceed without the others simultaneously taking steps forward. This builds trust among the people which is the foundation of a genuine community.”
“Rather than sucumbing to our fears and being trapped by them, we should embrace them head on with each other, being vulnerable and open to the freedom that lies ahead.”
“When in an interreligious or interfaith environment, make eye contact with other people. If they meet your eyes and their iris blooms with invitation, go and meet each other at that deeply spiritual realm – the heart. Know this, thought – you now hold that person’s most precious gift, a hear pulsating with their radiance in your heart and hand. Hold it delicately.”
“By saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Telling people your beliefs and the logic you may have for doing what you do. By hiding your “personality” and instead letting your character show through your actions.”
2. How can we overcome our own personal barriers to dialogue?
“By being open and vulnerable to each other in dialogue, we can truthfully engage with each other in fruitful conversation.”
“So often in interreligious dialogue we build so many walls such as theologically certainty or emotional fear…most often, dialouge never occurs.”
“Often it is our intellectual, spiritual, or personal understanding of the world and those around us that becomes an obstacle to engaging in dialogue. In order to overcome this, we should constantly ask ourselves, ‘why?’”
“Convincing myself that others aren’t ready to talk about sensitive issues.”
“Learning about our similarities, however, not forgetting to embrace our differences.”
“The best defense is an offense that finds you on a couch with a partner, over a cup of tea and a conversation that may sting. Bet here and talk, without the baggage.”
“To hear and gain knowledge from others one must stop talking and listen.”
“Authentic dialogue is rare in this world, because it is engaged by humans…humans with intellectual and emotional baggage, with profound fears and soaring hopes…we must accept our limitations and our creatureliness, but we can never cease striving to a dialogue of reflective honesty and mutually-unfolding love.”
“True engagement and understanding cannot occur from behind unmoving stone walls. In order to cultivate understanding, not only do we have to walk out and meet others where they are, see where they live, but we must be willing to expose ourselves as well.”
“In interreligious dialogue, let us not hide, nor let us force ourselves to fight behind a wall. It will take courage to speak without certainty, buy much can be gained from jumping the wall rather than peering over it.”
2012-2013 Interfaith Scholars
If Interfaith were a structural component of a sentence â€“ a grammatical term â€“ I think it would be a verb. Over the past two years at DePaul I have encountered Interfaith as an active experience: one which links, supports, and moves its subjects. Its potential acts not only as a catalyst but also a clarifier. As a Roman Catholic, Interfaith has challenged my faith, while also solidifying it. My time thus far, as an Interfaith Scholar, has called me to examine intrafaith diversity within the Christian and Catholic faith traditions. I have learned of the expansive nature of my own personal, faith journey and the role of Interfaith dialogue as I seek to listen, understand, and grow as a person of faith. I hope to continue to understand myself and others I encounter, through the soulful relationships Interfaith offers.
“As a Muslim, embracing diversity has always been an important virtue I grew up cherishing. One of the verses that God revealed to the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him,) in the Quran states, â€œO mankind, indeed We created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes for you to get to know one another. Qurâ€™an, 49:13). This verse has always been the motivation that helped me understand the importance of interfaith dialogue and the values that come with every conversation. I like to use metaphors, and to me engagement in interfaith dialogue is like a freshly planted seed, with every drop of water, a new leaf or fruit begins to grow. I am a Sophomore hoping to pursue a career in International Community Development. My major currently is International Studies with a triple minor in Public Policy, Economics, and Community Service Studies. I very much enjoy reading the Sunday New York Times, my favorite section being the Sunday Review Opinions. During my free time I volunteer at a non-profit, LIFT in Pilsen, where I help direct resources to the impoverished clients that I serve. I enjoy writing prose, riding my bike, and playing basketball. I believe that through interfaith dialogue and engagement we can expand our horizons of self understanding, and discover the uniqueness in faith, tradition, and culture each individual possesses.
“My path toward interfaith has wound through a wealth of religious traditions. Though I was born and raised Jewish I have attended and observed more Christian holidays and services and, at one time or another, read French and German existentialists and denied God’s existence, traveled to the Vedic City to learn about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and sat regularly with a Zen Sangha in Ravenswood. Now I study primarily Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity for my Religious Studies degree at DePaul and I remain closest to these three traditions and the Judaism of my family. Some days I self-identify as belonging to all of these traditions, other days none of the above. I find that studying religion is an excellent way for me to better understand the people with whom I share the planet – and I believe interfaith dialogue is a beautiful way to acknowledge and express our interconnectivity with one another, with God, and with the rest of the cosmos.
“When I was first asked to think about applying to become an Interfaith Scholar my very first reaction was ‘I’ve never done interfaith work before! I was told that is the very reason I needed to apply. I am very excited to begin work as Scholar so that I can begin to broaden my horizons outside of my own tiny world within my religion and denomination. Being an Episcopalian has shaped my mind to think in a unique and interesting way. But, I am excited to have my mind challenged by those who have had their own minds shaped by their different respective faiths. Interfaith work goes beyond just myself. I have always been taught to love my neighbor, and that is not a task we can accomplish if we are not able to have dialogue with each other, if we cannot grow into one community of many faiths. I am excited to be presented with an opportunity to enter into and help to form that very community that is needed.”
Laura E. Mena
“For the past 20 years of my life, I have been living and learning in the wonderful city of Chicago. I am the oldest out of five and I have the privilege of providing my siblings with a role model and a friend they can trust. As a college student, I have tried to be as involved on campus as I can because meeting new people and learning their story is something that interests me a lot. As a scholar, I believe interfaith promotes diversity and different perspectives. There have been various conflicts with religion but ultimately it is what keeps individuals on their feet. Faith, hope and love are the virtues and qualities one needs in order to be complete. I encourage interfaith because it helps not only one self but others as well to understand faith. It is important to understand others’ faith because it shapes them on who they are. I believe DePaul’s University Ministry creates a welcoming environment for anyone with or without a religious background. The interfaith community is important because they have been strong supporters of who I am now. I am glad DePaul has giving me so many wonderful opportunities, including this one.”
“Go forth and set the world on fire.” – St. Ignatius of Loyola
For me, religion always has served as a medium through which to explore and question the world, life, and all of the beautiful struggles that make up the human experience. I consider myself tremendously privileged to have been raised in a strong Jewish community, which nurtured the development of my religious identity and education. However, as I move forward I find myself yearning to expand my understanding beyond strictly what is familiar. Interfaith presents a unique and unparalleled opportunity to expand this exploration beyond the realm of my own perspective. Through encounters of interfaith dialogue, the common language of faith provides a common ground from which each of our unique perspectives emerges. I am eager to venture into this new terrain, where the path of my religious journey will lead me to further discover my self, challenge my faith, and understand the world around me.
During my journey of faith, I always knew that I wanted to be involved in campus ministry. I was constantly searching to find a community where I can share my faith and engage in dialogues with those of different religious perspectives. When I heard of the Interfaith Scholars, I knew that this group would be the best way to gain valuable information about others faiths and traditions while sharing my own. I thought to myself, together we can build a community on campus of people from all faiths and traditions and work together to achieve a common goal. I am excited to be an Interfaith Scholar this year, I am ready to lead, learn, and share with others. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”-Philippians 2:1-4.
Penelope D. Antonopoulos
Senior, Orthodox Christian
Interfaith is a rather new concept to me. I attended an Orthodox Christian school for most of my life, and while my high school was diverse there was not a lot of dialogue among my peers about faith. Also, because Orthodoxy is often associated with ethnic communities, it can be difficult for us Orthodox Christians to branch out and learn about what other faiths exist and believe in. I feel both honored and privileged to be given the opportunity to be an advocate for peace in the university community through the Interfaith Scholars. I anticipate working alongside a diverse group of people from all sorts of various backgrounds, and I look forward to learning about different faiths by discussing our differences and celebrating our similarities. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12:31
Interfaith Scholars 2011-2012
Matthew Casey, Omar Tawil, Patricia Hudson, Jordan Kelly, Caelin Niehoff, Micheal Evers, Peter Dziedzic, Momena Billah
Interfaith Scholars 2010-2011
Nic Cable, Bridget Liddell, Michael Evers, Mohammad Yassin, Emma CushmanWood, Matthew Casey, Christina Ferrari.
Interfaith Scholars 2009-2010
Nic Cable, Bridget Liddell, Michael Evers, Ellen Romer, Adlil Issakoo, Meagan Dible, David Ellis, Summar Othman
Interfaith Scholars 2008-2009
Aara Johnson, Hafsa Arain, Garrett Seelinger, Ali Al-Sarraf, Zachary Lynn, Meagan Dible, Maria Javiera Ortega Reszczynski
Interfaith Scholars 2007-2008
Abder-Rahman Ali, Ali al-Sarraf, Faustine Wolcott, Garrett Seelinger, Hafsa Arain, Sadeq al-Tloa
Interfaith Scholars 2006-2007
Garrett Seelinger, TJ Bigbee, Usra Ghazi