‘Forgiveness’ to be topic of interfaith gathering at St. Mary’s Church in Longmeadow on April 24 Published: Thursday, By Cori Urban
LONGMEADOW—Members of various faiths have not always treated one another with kindness and charity; in fact, “we all have a lot of history to overcome, and forgiveness is going to be integral to that,” said Dr. Martin J. Pion, professor of religious studies at Elms College in Chicopee.
There have been times “when we have not behaved well,” he explained, citing anti Semitism and the “idea that the only thing Christians should be doing with Jews is trying to convert them” and the “vying” for the holy city of Jerusalem by Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Pion will moderate a special program on “Forgiveness” hosted by St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Parish and The Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts.
The event will give participants an opportunity to learn how “we all have a negative history together,” he said, and to reflect on the value of forgiveness in their own lives and in their own religious traditions. Members of the panel will be Rabbi Devorah Jacobson representing Judaism; the Rev. Warren Savage representing the Catholic Christian faith; Imam Wissam Abdul Baki representing Islam; and Dr. John Woodall, representing the Baha’i Community. The evening of interfaith fellowship, dinner and discussion will take place on Tuesday, April 24, at the parish at 519 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow.
The event will bring together persons of different religious traditions for fellowship and friendship, said John J. McQuade, chair of the committee preparing the event and a member o the St. Mary’s Parish Council. “We want to help people understand other faiths’ beliefs on forgiveness and how their faith deals with the concept of forgiveness.”
Because there is “so much divisiveness and hatred in the world” the program will be a way to “bring people together,” he said. Jacobson is the director of pastoral care at the Jewish Geriatric Service in Longmeadow and a board certified chaplain. She teaches at the Florence Melton Adult Education Program and is currently teaching a 20-week course on “Modern Jewish Thought.” She is a co-leader of the Amherst Chapter of Dining for Women. Savage is a priest of the target=_blank, a professor of theology and religious studies at Elms College, an instructor for the Diaconate Formation Program of the Diocese of Springfield and a nationally known parish mission preacher and retreat leader. He is currently a member of Spiritual Directors International and the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. Baki is a resident imam at the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts. He has a master’s degree in Islamic law, and he is writing a doctoral dissertation in the field of Islamic Fiqh. He is a member of the Professional Consultation Committee of Baystate Medical Center and volunteer chaplain for Baystate Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center. Woodall is founder and director of The Unity Project, a not-for-profit corporation that designs and implements resilience-building programs for youth. He was the convener of the “Resilient Responses to Social Crisis Working Group” at Harvard University’s Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative and directed the Task Force for Accountability for War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is co-founder of the Healing Arts Project working with New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development after 9/11 to build resilience in children. He is a board certified psychiatrist with a special expertise in posttraumatic stress disorder. Currently he directs the work of the Unity Project with numerous partners across east Africa and the United States. Pion is director of the Institute for Theology and Pastoral Studies and president of the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts. Participants are asked to gather at 5:30 p.m.; the program will begin at 6 and a potluck dinner at 7. Salad, bread and dessert will be provided; each participant is asked to bring a main dish to share. There is no admittance fee. Call the parish office at (413) 567-3124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend. SOURCE