“This programme has given me the opportunity to experience and better understand other faith traditions as well as to learn more about my own!” This quote is from one of more than 50 participants who took part in a three-evening summer school in Birmingham in mid-July organised by the Columban Interreligious Dialogue Team.People from across the Archdiocese of Birmingham attended the training event. The first evening was held at the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue; the second at the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Community of Birmingham; the third evening at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Sparkhill.
Each evening the participants were welcomed by members of the local faith community and then were led by a Faith Guide who showed and explained to them the main features of their place of worship. The second part of each evening was dedicated to exploring the main aspects of the Church’s teaching about dialogue with other religious traditions. This allowed participants to reflect on their own faith and personal motivation for engaging in dialogue.
The evenings culminated with discussions on current issues which affect the diverse faith communities in Birmingham. Speakers from Christian, Sikh, Jewish and Muslim faiths shared their thoughts on gender issues, care for the Earth and community engagement. This third element of the training intended to engage participants and speakers on reflecting about the way our faith communities can contribute to tackling justice issues which affect the whole community.
Promoting ‘life-giving’ relationships among people of different faiths and cultures is a priority of Columban mission in Britain today. This summer school intended to be a contribution towards building good relations among faith communities. It was delivered in memory of Fr Pat McCaffrey SSC (RIP) a Columban missionary whose work in Pakistan, Fiji, Birmingham and Bradford inspired many to engage in the dialogue of life and collaboration.
If you are interested in supporting the work of the Columbans in Birmingham on dialogue with other faith traditions or if you want to know more about it, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mauricio Silva is the Interreligious dialogue Coordinator of the Columbans in Britain.