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Conference Offers Contemporary Stories of Holiness

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Stories of Practical Holiness: An Exercise in Interreligious Understanding

A conference at the University of Notre Dame February 5 to 8 will bring together Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and Buddhists for four days to tell the stories of particularly admirable men and women from their respective faiths and traditions.

Stories of Practical Holiness: An Exercise in Interreligious Understanding, convened by the Institute for Church Life (ICL), will include accounts of martyred Trappist monks; of the asceticism and enlightenment of Dharma masters, Buddhist nuns, and Sikh luminaries; of reconciling Israeli Jews and dispossessed Palestinians; and of a contemporary Muslim religious healer.

John C. Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini Director of the ICL, says that the conference will present concrete examples of holiness from diverse faith traditions not only as a means of deepening interreligious understanding, but also to provide examples of how religious faith drives palpable and conspicuous acts of love, compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation in contemporary society.

“Admiration is itself a kind of pedagogy,” Cavadini says. “We can look at and admire the lives and witnesses of holy men and women from diverse religious faiths without inviting a sort of religious relativism.”

According to Cavadini, the interreligious dimension of the conference derives in large part from an insight expressed by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth), in which the pope praised the martyrs and saints of the Catholic Church for their “eloquent and attractive example of a life completely transfigured by the splendor of moral truth,” and added that “in this witness to the absoluteness of the moral good Christians are not alone: They are supported by the moral sense present in peoples and by the great religious and sapiential traditions of East and West, from which the interior and mysterious workings of God’s Spirit are not absent.”

Featured speakers at the conference include Dharma Master Hsin Tao; Bhai Sahib (Dr.) Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia; Rev. Armand Veilleux, O.C.S.O.; Abdolrahim Gavahi, Ph.D.; Dalia Landau; Khader Al-Kalak; and Yehezkel Landau. In addition to sharing stories at the conference, they will visit various Notre Dame theology classes and attend a prayer breakfast with religious leaders and members of the University community.

Conference events are free and open to the public.

“Stories of Practical Holiness” is sponsored by the ICL and the Fetzer Institute.

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