By Sister Kathy Schmittgens, International Shalom Coordinator
Mission in a Pluralistic World was the theme for this year’s SEDOS Seminar (Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission), 28 April – 2 May in Ariccia, Italy. It involved looking at dialogue among different faiths. Each day focused on a different religious perspective – Judaism, Islam and Buddhism – with a presentation by a person from that faith, a presentation from a missionary who was involved in dialogue with that faith, and a presentation on some aspect of dialogue.
We were challenged by the caveat “nothing is as deceptive as the transposition of terms from one religion to another” (Jacques Bacot 1877-1965). Looking at the terms “justice”, “freedom” and “charity” from the perspective of how these terms are understood in another religion was enlightening.
Four sisters (pictured on left, left to right), Antoinette Cornelius, Kathy Schmittgens, Dominica Sento, and Maria-Theresia Knippschild, attended the seminar; all felt enriched by the experience.
Sister Dominica: My main ministry as an SSND right now is as staff of the campus ministry room at Kyoto Notre Dame University. Every day, several students come in, stay, and go. Most of them are non-Catholic. I just stay there, listen to them if they want to talk, and let them be themselves. After I came back from the SEDOS seminar, I feel I can accept each student with a broader heart.
Sister Antoinette: I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in the SEDOS Workshop which exposed me to women and men of different religious congregations, nationalities, cultures, and experiences.
The attitude of Openness to the process and showing keen interest is key to dialogue. The attitude of Respect – we approach each other with reverence and humility because we do not hold the absolute truth – each has just a piece of the truth
Empathy – to feel with and for – that is putting yourself in the position of the other and trying to walk in the shoes of the other. The shoe might be very tight on you or very loose on you but you try to wear it to feel with the other person.
Sister Maria-Theresia: For me, attending this year’s SEDOS seminar was a moving experience with so many religious from different communities and from different countries and cultures. In her opening address, Mission as Interreligious Dialogue, Sister Kathleen McGarvey, OLA, raised the question of whether interfaith dialogue should be understood as a path of mission or mission as an interfaith dialogue. No matter which direction you go, one basic concern remains: “As people of faith, Christians and Muslims, men and women, we are called to open to one another as gifts within and through which the mystery of God, God’s Word, and the mystery of humanity, is continuously revealed.” It is through this attitude of openness that (interfaith) dialogue becomes possible. As an SSND, I add: Read and live the points of Love Gives Everything. They provide the help, which is necessary for interfaith dialogue.
(See SEDOS Bulletin Vol. 51, Num.5/6 for talks from the seminar.)