Gateways to Learning

Helping others learn about different faith communities is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Sister Maria Hornung, author of the book Encountering Other Faiths, has been serving for over five years as the Educational Coordinator of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia. Last year, the Center began “Gateway to Religious Communities,” a new program in its area of Adult Learning and Leadership.

Participants in the program were able to tour the congregations of their choice with a small group, attend a service with the religious community, reflect and ask questions with community members and enjoy refreshments. Twelve different congregations from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Native America, Protestant, Society of Friends and Universalist faith communities welcomed the “journeyers.”

“The hope of this program was that people interested in interfaith engagement would over the year receive hospitality from different faith communities, learning from them and enjoying the experience,” Sister Maria explains.

She adds, “ New insights abounded, friends were made across religious boundaries, awareness about the great number of people of good will in this city grew….An unforeseen gift of these months has been the brother/sisterhood that grew among the journeyers, as well as the great affirmation of these visits experienced by those visited.” The program was so successful that it is being repeated in 2011.

Four communities participating this spring are: Main Line Reform Temple (April 1), Baha’i Community of Philadelphia (May 1), Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship and Mosque (May 29), and St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic Parish (June 19).

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April 1, 2011