Several different faith and religious groups on campus celebrated Inter-Faith Week from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21, in the first major collaboration of its kind at Georgetown.
The celebration involved different traditions of religious and spiritual worship, and was co-sponsored by nine on-campus religious groups. All of the week’s events, which included Catholic Mass, Protestant Sunday worship, Hindu prayer services, and Muslim Jum’ah services, were open to the public and students of any faith were encouraged to attend.
The Georgetown chapter of the Knights of Columbus spearheaded the organization of the celebration. Hunter Estes (SFS ‘19), Grand Knight of the Georgetown Knights of Columbus, described how the concept of the Inter-Faith Week originated. “I think one of the problems we have [at Georgetown]is that while we have the Campus Ministry offices that work so close together and the chaplains know each other so well, there’s not much inter-discussion between the different faith groups themselves,” he said.
While all faith groups welcome anyone from different faiths to join in their services, according to Estes students can still be intimidated by attending services of other faiths. “[The Knights of Columbus] thought that this week would be important for exposing people to different faith groups, traditions, and services they have never been to before and therefore the groups decided to make a formal time when people can feel comfortable of going and experiencing it now for themselves,” he said.
The week’s events were carefully planned so as to offer as much of a chance for students to visit the different religious services as possible, as well as to offer relief from midterms. “With midterms going on, faith is a great thing to dive into when someone feels stressed.” said Estes.
Inter-Faith Week also occurred in the context of recent anti-semitic graffiti on campus, and thus also aimed to function as a show of unity. “In a world and in a country filled with such discrimination, prejudice and misunderstanding, I think that this initiative is an especially valuable effort. This event offers an affirmative answer that we will stand together as a community to promote tolerant and respectful dialogue and compassionate understanding,”said Estes.
On Friday, Oct 20, members of different faiths brought the week to a close by assembling food kits for International Orthodox Christian Charities, which helps deliver and distribute clean water, food, and medical supplies to those in need in more than 50 countries. IOCC is one of the few charities still operating in Syria.
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship led the packing itself, which took place in the Makóm, Jewish Gathering Space in the Leavey Center “[The Orthodox Christian Fellowship] have refugee-kit making once a month and during the spring, and we wanted to have it open to other faith groups and anyone else who wants to join, especially for this week,” said Larisa Pollock (MSB ‘19), the organization’s president.
Munir Pavez (SFS ‘20), vice-president of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, hailed Inter-Faith Week as a resounding success: “From my perspective, it was really great to meet people from other faith groups. A lot of people came to our Orthodox Faith Service, and this was a great way to end the week because everyone came together to work to serve others. All of our religions have that concept of charity and helping others and those in need,” he said.
Sara Fares (COL ‘20), an Orthodox Christian Fellowship board member, highlighted the ability for students to explore different faith groups. “The idea of Inter-Faith Week is really cool because I think people are usually intimidated by going to other services that aren’t of their own religion, even if they are interested in them. This is a good way to get people involved in actually going to services,” she said.
Image Credit: Brooke Dudek