March 1, 2016
By Paloma Yanez
Interfaith cooperation comes in many flavors at Dominican. Christians, Jews and Muslims chant in an Interfaith Circle, join with others in an interfaith protest against deportations as well as plenty of other issues.
The Interfaith Cooperation Committee is a group of faculty and staff, started in 2010, that serves as the leadership group directing all of the campus-wide efforts aimed at increasing work in diversity and inclusion.
Committee Co-Chair Claire Noonan says the goal is to create an environment where people of various faiths and traditions can both learn about and come to appreciate one another. The mission is to work on various projects of shared interests together.
A group of students, sponsored out of University Ministry, visited the Broadview Detention Center, which is a holding facility for people who are being deported. Dominican students enthusiastically joined the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants during a prayer vigil that was held for those in the facility.
In the fall, University Ministry sponsored a Hunger Banquet that focused on low-wage workers in the Chicago-area and hosted another organization called Interfaith Worker Justice Arise Chicago that was working towards campaigning to raise the minimum wage to $15.
Ami Omi is a representative of University Ministry who sits on the committee. She is responsible for shepherding the prayer life of the university, which encompasses a diversity of religious traditions. Her mission is to bridge the gap and create resonances amongst differences by creating a safe space where students can come to gather and dialogue.
Omi helped run last Tuesday’s Interfaith Circle, which focused on Abrahamic traditions that include Islam, Christianity and Judaism. They chanted songs and prayers in Aramaic and Hebrew. It allowed her to see the differences in a way that makes them beautiful. She believes it was essential in teaching that various faiths do not threaten personal beliefs. It informed students and helped them to understand that differences do not need to produce division.
The Interfaith Committee is a non-exclusive organization that participates with University Ministry and is open to both undergrad and graduate students. Noonan states their approach is best described as infusion. Rather than setting up a center for interfaith studies, they’ve tried to look at all aspects of campus life, which includes curriculum as well as student involvement. The main question students should ponder is the role of interfaith literacy and participation in the development of the individual, regardless of distinctions.
Diversity and education of global citizenship is an important element in Dominican’s mission. Any student can benefit from this because the committee helps to broaden worldviews and deepen the understanding of people who are different from one another. Students who are interested in making their religious practice apart of their campus life experience are often the ones who participate in their annual activities. The committee ultimately wants to make Dominican a welcoming place where a diverse demographic can feel comfortable. The committee is currently seeking students to be chairs and, next year, the committee will be offering paid internships.