Interfaith ‘conversation’ set Sept. 15, 22 in Rock Island

ROCK ISLAND — What started as a dialogue between Catholic and Muslim women nine years ago has turned into an interfaith “conversation” that now includes women of all faiths.

This year’s gathering will be held on Mondays, Sept. 15 and 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 4501 Seventh Ave. Participants will explore the theme, “Are We Praying to the Same God?”

Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB, who serves on the committee for the annual program, said a dialogue means two people talking, but when six or more women are sitting around a table it becomes a conversation.

The Benedictine community at St. Mary Monastery was one of the first sponsors of the annual program, which was designed to open the lines of communication and promote understanding between Catholic and Muslim women. Soon the dialogue grew to include Jewish women and “each year we’ve been gathering more Christian women and women from diverse backgrounds,” Sister Catherine told The Catholic Post.

“Thomas Merton said, ‘Dialogue is a conversation that becomes communion.’ In my heart, that has happened here,” she said, noting that faith-filled women in the Quad Cities have rallied together to stop human trafficking, welcome immigrant children and help with food pantries, among other things.

“There is communion,” Sister Catherine said. “When the committee met, someone said, ‘How are the twins?’ They remembered that. They feel close to each other.”

This year’s theme honors the fact that “we all believe and profess the goodness of God and that he is active in our hearts and in our lives,” according to Sister Catherine, a longtime spiritual director in central Illinois.

She explained that while each group acknowledges that they are “miles apart in doctrine and our beliefs in Christ and the manner of expressing our beliefs,” they continue to come together to talk about who God is for them and to pray.

“It points to the greater glory of God, that God is for all people,” Sister Catherine said. “God is everyone’s savior. We could never deny his presence to anybody.”

There is no charge to attend the Women’s Interfaith Conversation. For more information, contact Sister Catherine at (309) 283-2118 or ccleary@smmsisters.org.

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