Missio Inter Gentes: some interfaith dialogue, From Sisters Colleen Foley and Marj Colleen
The Ahmaddiya Muslim Community at Marsden Park, near Plumpton is an active and outreaching community. On several occasions the Community has reached out to Good Shephard Parish, Plumpton inviting us to their Interfaith Symposiums for “Empowerment of Women - Views from Different Faiths” at the time of International Women’s Day, “Fasting in My Religion” at the time of Ramadan; also National celebrations - Australia Day and Remembrance Day.
Sr Colleen has attended various gatherings and has felt the welcome of the community, especially from the women sharing their prayerfulness and faith. The motto of this community is “Love for all, hatred for none”.
During school holidays the women expressed a wish to offer this education to their school aged girls. They requested a visit to Plumpton parish to have a tour of the Church and a talk on Christianity.
A renewed opportunity for sharing arose when they were invited to join us in dialogue around the focus question of the Plenary Council 2020. We gathered as a small group of Muslim and Catholic faith. The visitors had come well prepared with their answers to the question, “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”
In short, their responses coincided basically with our own Christian responses. We prayed together at the beginning and at the end of our discussion. The encounter was a beautiful discovery of so many things that we share in common. Interfaith dialogue is a very positive thing, showing how we can work together.
Sr Marj is also invovled in Interfaith Dialogue with Muslin women. She recently attended an Interfaith Symposium; "How Do Different Religions Promote Peace?" . This session included a young Muslim woman, a Rabbi, an Indigenous woman and a Josephite Sister, who shared their insights regarding this topic.
An interesting and informative book titled; “Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church returns to Gospel Nonviolence” Marie Dennis (Editor), is a report from the 2016 conference held in Rome calling the Church to take the Gospel seriously, “Love your enemies”.
Sr Marj also attended a talk at Good Samaritan Catholic College, Hinchinbrook where Dr Nada Roude had been invited to give an overview of Islam and its impact on Christians. Dr Nada's main Thesis is titled: "Australian Muslim Leaders' Perspectives on Countering Violent Extremism - Towards Developing a Best Practice Model for Engaging the Muslim Community."
As we can appreciate it is by education, encouragement and personal contact that attitudes regarding interfaith dialogue will continue to develop.