As companions of Jesus sent into today´s world, a world characterized by religious pluralism, we have a special responsibility to promote interreligious dialogue. Thus keeping in mind the richness of the other faith traditions and in order to make it more practical for the young scholastics in the formation, a four day interfaith seminar was organized by Islamic Studies Association. It was held at Hyderabad in coordination with the Henry Martin Institute, International Center for Research, interfaith Relations and Reconciliation. Beside our daily Eucharist, every day the program began with interfaith prayer service conducted by our brothers and sisters of other faith. It was indeed an enriching experience to come together and pray to one God in Vedic, Islamic and Sikh faith traditions. Our spirits elevated and hearts were raised to praise God as we sat together under one roof.
The workshop basically included a Spiritual animation process in dialogue through various inputs given by Tom SJ on GC decrees and Victor Edwin SJ on the church documents like Nostra Aeatate, Redemptoris Missio etc. We reflected on a number of key sentences from the aforementioned documents in order to realize and experience the ‘spirit’ of the documents. We recognized the challenge to mould our lives for mission in the milieu of diverse faiths. Focused discussion and sharing helped us to appropriate the key learning from the process. The focus on the process helped us to personalize what we learnt during the workshop.
Fr. Joe Kalathil talked to us about the ‘Children for Peace’ an initiative that he has taken for peace between Pakistan and India. Deep conviction that ‘peace is possible’ and an equally deep confidence that God will provide for sustains him in this ministry, he told us. We were deeply inspired and touched by his personal sharing and experiences.
We went to participate in an evening ‘Qawwali’ in a sufi dargah. Qawwali is performed mainly at Sufi shrines throughout South Asia. We also participated in a sufi meditation called ‘dhikar’. ‘Dhikar’ is one of the sufi practices of devotion where Muslims repeat short prayers in a rhythmically often aloud. For Sufis, it is a way to attain enlightenment and union with God. A Sufi and his son came and conducted this meditation for us. It was a spiritual experience for us.
We also had an opportunity to interact with the faculty of Islamic Studies at Maulana Azad National Urdu University and a visit to Buddha vihar. We had good conversation in both places. Though we were very few in numbers but we could enjoy the companionship of one another and also made some new friends belonging to other Churches and other faiths.