Regular Faculty

Promoting Religious Solidarity: Learning about World Religions

Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC

Interreligious DialogueCatholics throughout the world are recognizing the need to reach out in solidarity with people from various cultural and religious traditions. In light of this growing awareness the Oakland Diocese will begin a program for parishes to learn about world's religions and the Church's dialogue ministry.

Organized by the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, the hope is that education about other faith traditions and principled interreligious dialogue will foster greater cooperation and solidarity among believers of all religions. According to the recent statement issued by the commission, they maintain that this is the most effective means to combat the racism, religious intolerance, and religious/ideological extremism so evident in today's society.

Since early 2009, the Commission has met regularly to revise its mission statement and to plan various events. Thom McGowan, who was the diocesan director of services and director of the ecumenical and interreligious affairs office for the diocese for more than 10 years until he retired in 2010, is commission chairperson. The committee members are Gus Nystrom, Jim Webber, John Giuntoli, Father Thomas Bonacci, CP, Sister Marianne Farina, CSC, Bob Mahoney, and Scott Miyashiro. The task of the commission is put into practice the direction Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone has taken to promote ecumenical and interreligious activity. Information about the members of the Commission and their work can be found on the diocesan website.

The proposed Diocesan program includes three formal sessions that will help parishioners to:

  • Acquire basic information about the world's religions
  • Learn about the Catholic Church's commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue
  • Discover skills within each parish community that will help them promote good relations with faith communities and interfaith groups.

The program begins with a study of Jesus' ministry with people of various faiths and differing cultures, and includes site-visits to different religious places of worship.

Members of the Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission will provide the instruction along with experts in the field of world religions and interreligious dialogue. Parishes are free to choose the time and date for their program.

The first step to building religious solidarity is getting to know and befriend those who are different from us. The Oakland Diocese is committed to fostering a Catholic response to religious discrimination by learning how every believer can become messengers of peace through dialogue and collaboration that promotes the common good.