The Mid-West Interfaith Network is comprised of people from many diverse faiths and cultures, which aim to encourage awareness, and to promote mutual understanding and respect of different traditions followed by people in Limerick. Since its inception in 2010, the Network has organised a number of events – multi-faith devotional meetings, participation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and a visit to President Mary McAleese, to name a few. In June 2012, in cooperation with Cois Tine Cork, the Network hosted a Muslim – Christian Dialogue Workshop. This event was the first of its kind in Mid-West region and proved to be great success. Last week the network came together at Mary Immaculate College with an important mission in mind – they wanted to talk about their experience of getting to know people of different religious traditions can make an important difference in our society. In the past decade Ireland has become an increasingly multi-religious and multi-cultural society and our need to learn more about people from other traditions is growing. We all know that religious and cultural differences can be a cause of tension, or even violence, but often we don’t realise how powerful ordinary relationship building, can be even in the face of serious problems. Through this public meeting the Mid-West Interfaith Network provided an opportunity for religious communities to build dialogue and cooperation that would lead to closer integration. At the meeting, in order to highlight the importance of learning to live together, members of the Midwest Interfaith Network presented their personal perspective on interfaith diversity. Rev. Dr. Keith Scott introduced the proceeding with a description of the Network’s background. This was followed by presentations from members. In the first presentation, Jewish member, Eva Coombes, described her view thus – “By breaking bread together, we learn not only to tolerate people of other faiths, to get to know — and love — them but also more importantly, we learn to present ourselves in a way that is tolerable, and give them a chance to love us in return.” Next to speak was Sr. Jo O’Donovan, who included a meditation by St. Teresa of Avila, which eloquently summed up her approach to Christianity and to accepting others from different traditions. The final presentation was by Shannon Bahá’í, Trish Fallon. Trish described how her religion encourages its members to ‘consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of fellowship and love.’ “As a Bahá’í I see everyone as being part of one human family and feel it is very important to not just tolerate our differences but to celebrate them and learn from each other.”
For further info visit www.midwestinterfaith.org.