This article is from 2021 in the Holliston Reporter. Written by Susan Manning, it shares the work of the Metrowest Interfaith Dialogue Project in the community, and the extraordinary value to our interfaith relationships and solidarity.
Twelve members of faith organizations in MetroWest, including Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Holliston, work on a regular basis to make their communities more inclusive. They called it the MetroWest Interfaith Dialogue Project (MIDP).
According to Fr. Carl Chudy, Interfaith Outreach Coordinator for Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, recognizing the diversity in communities is important.
“Our hope is to the honor the religious and nonreligious diversity of our communities and neighborhoods by creating an interfaith community within communities of different faiths. We focus on three goals: Foster opportunities to come together in order to come to know one another and the faiths that inspire us; Gain insight on how much we share in common through our faiths and values; Discover how interfaith dialogue and action can make a difference in our communities and neighborhoods and helps us all flourish together,” he said.
So how did this group come together? Chudy said some of it had already been happening when the more formal project came together in 2017.
“The MIDP began in 2017, building on interfaith and ecumenical activity already begun by Rev. Bonnie Steinroeder (First Congregational Church), Rev. Mark Peterson (Christ the King Lutheran Church), Rev. Sarah Robbins-Cole (St. Michael’s Episcopal Church), Rabbis Jennifer Rudin (Simcha-Services) and Moshe Givental (former Rabbi of Temple Beth Torah) and me, in various town activities.
“My full-time work is Interfaith Outreach Coordinator for Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Holliston, and I began enlisting others to join us in a wider interfaith approach, including Mynuddin Syed from the Islamic Community in Framingham, and Shaheen Akhtar from the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, in specific activities that attempts to invite Jewish, Christian, and Muslim neighbors to see how we can all flourish together,” he said.
The present dialogue team covers a wider religious and nonreligious approach to interfaith dialogue and collaboration. They include Bert Cote (First Congregational Church), Rev. Mark Peterson (Christ the King Lutheran Church), Rev. Sarah Robbins-Cole (St. Michael Episcopal Church), Hussam Syed (Islamic Society of Framingham), Siri Karm Singh Khalsa (Sikh Community of Millis), Kristal Corona (Conflict Resolution Specialist), Chris Brumbach (Temple Beth Torah), Rabbi Jennifer Rudin (Simcha-Services), Rabbi Mimi Micner (Temple Beth Torah), Swami Tyagananda (Vedanta Society of Boston (Hindu)), Warren Chamberlain (Bahai Community) and Chudy.
The groups hold various gatherings, although the pandemic put a wrench in the in-person events this past year. Chudy said the first event was a two-day interfaith event that began at Temple Beth Torah and finished at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine. It was themed: Loving and Listening: Honoring our Diversity as Multifaith Neighbors.
“Providentially, our first encounter together at Temple Beth Torah was the very day of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, October 27, 2018, where an anti-Semitic attack killed eleven people and injured six,” said Chudy.
The group has also held book reads in person and online on forgiveness and systemic racism, interfaith scripture studies, and special forums to look at issues of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
“In light of shootings in mosques and synagogues elsewhere, we published declarations of solidarity, (found here: (www.hollistoninterfaith.org/building-bridges-blog/in-solidarity-with-our-muslim-neighbors-in-this-time-of-tragedy),” he said.
Chudy said the division in this country is the exact reason the MIDP is needed.
“These divided times impel us to act together based on our common ground as peoples of different faiths and those who are nonreligious. We also strive to explore our differences and the values that hold all of us accountable to each other,” he said.
For more information, visit hollistoninterfaith.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.