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UT faith communities come together to discuss compassion

Compassion is key at The University of Toledo’s 13th annual Jewish-Christian- Muslim Dialogue.

The Rev. James Bacik will give a talk, “Karen Armstrong and Pope Francis on Compassion: Theological Perspectives and Practical Strategies,” at this year’s event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10 in the Student Union Ingman Room.

Following the talk, reflections will be given by Rabbi Evan Rubin, leader of the congregation Etz Chayim, and Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, UT professor emeritus of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery and UT Board of Trustees member.

“The dialogue between Judaism, Christianity and Islam is a family dialogue,” said Dr. Jeanine Diller, director of UT’s Center for Religious Understanding. “These three religions all claim descent from Abraham in some way, and they all have as their ultimate concern the God of Abraham. These historical and theological linkages give them a lot to say to each other, and sometimes they disagree, sometimes they agree. This annual dialogue is a venue for that conversation.”

Each year for the past 12 years, members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths on campus and in the community gather to talk about a topic of mutual interest, Diller said. The faiths take turns on a keynote speaker — this year being the Christian faith’s turn. After the keynote talk and reflections, attendees are invited to break into religiously diverse groups to share thoughts on the evening.

Bacik, the keynote speaker, is a Toledo diocesan priest who formerly served as pastor of Corpus Christi University Parish and is a visiting adjunct professor at Lourdes University in Sylvania. He earned his doctorate of theology from the University of Oxford and has published 10 books and numerous articles, including Contemporary Theologians, Catholic Spirituality: Its History and Challenge, A Light Unto My Path: Crafting Effective Homilies, and his latest book, Humble Confidence: Spiritual and Pastoral Guidance From Rahner.

“Compassion is a wonderful topic for the three religious traditions,” he said. “There are great examples of compassion existing in other communities and how they portray compassion in their own communities.”

Bacik said he will focus on the work of 2008 Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) prize recipient Karen Armstrong, who initiated the Charter for Compassion — a commitment to work to establish and sustain cultures of compassion locally and globally through diverse initiatives. Toledo joined the movement last year.

Bacik will tie Armstrong’s work to the teachings of Pope Francis, who implements compassion into his homilies and daily practices. He cited when the pope kissed and prayed over the man with neurofibromatosis in 2013 as an example he will share. Pope Francis has spoke of the church as a field hospital during battle, which cares for the wounded, Bacik said.

Prior to the free, public event, a student “Compassion in Action” reception will offer free hors d’oeuvres and an opportunity for students to share stories about compassion in their own lives. A compassion box also will be available for students to walk out of the event with a kind task to do.

Free dessert will be available during the dialogue.

Attendees are invited to bring canned or boxed food donations for the UT Student Food Pantry that opened in October and serves UT students in need.

“I hope students will walk away with a deep and specific understanding about the value all three of these traditions place on compassion,” Diller said. “I hope they meet and converse with people from each of these traditions, too, and that they can ask hard questions and talk honestly together. I hope we all come away inspired to work shoulder to shoulder on the massive problems our world faces.”

This event is made possible by donations from the Jewish Federation, Corpus Christi University Parish, Toledo Campus Ministry, the Foundation of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Toledo Community Foundation, and UT’s College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences.

Visitor parking will be available in lot 13 or the west ramp; vehicles will not be ticketed during the event.

For more information, email or call 419.530.6187.

Media Coverage
The Blade (Feb. 7, 2015)
The Blade (Feb. 17, 2015)


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