Interfaith literacy and service

Special to the LOGOS

UIW students are known for building bridges between cultures and this year will provide many more opportunities.

The Interfaith Youth Core has awarded UIW an “Interfaith Innovation Grant” starting this month and is funding efforts to promote interfaith education, understanding andservice.

UIW joins the IYC which believes “college students, supported by their campuses, can be the interfaith leaders needed to make religion a bridge and not a barrier.”

The IYC proclaims, “We live at a time when people of different faith backgrounds are interacting with greater frequency than ever before. We hear the stories of people
who seek to make faith a barrier of division or a bomb of destruction all too often. Instead, we view religious and philosophical traditions as bridges of cooperation. Our interfaith movement builds religious pluralism. We define religious pluralism as a world characterized by: respect for people’s diverse religious and non-religious identities, mutually inspiring relationships between people of different backgrounds, and common action for the common good.” From

The University of the Incarnate Word mission statement says, “The University of the Incarnate Word is a Catholic institution that welcomes to its community persons of diverse backgrounds, in the belief that their respectful interaction advances the discovery of truth, mutual understanding, self-realization, and the common good.”

“Diverse backgrounds,” including interfaith diversity, is held as a positive value. The mission also notes aiming “to educate men and women who will become concerned and enlightened citizens within the global community.”

UIW students and faculty come from more than 70 different countries. Members of the UIW community have wonderful opportunities to learn from each other’s cultures and religious traditions. Part of the grant is supporting a web page which can be used by anyone for a basic introduction to the main religions.

A class of UIW students were involved in inaugurating the Charter for Compassion in San Antonio at UIW in November 2009. The Charter has wisdom from the heart
of the world’s great religions and philosophies

With many people working together the movement grew in San Antonio (See The San Antonio City Council passed the Compassionate City Resolution unanimously June 22, 2017.

COMPASSIONATE SAN ANTONIO is a grassroots movement in which the city
government, religious and volunteer organizations, businesses, the community and its educational institutions come together to recognize the importance and value of compassion in the life of a city and by doing so create an ethos of compassion and a safety net for its most vulnerable citizens.

The oldest continuous religion is Hinduism. A number of UIW faculty and students are of the Hindu tradition. They enrich our campus with the annual Diwali festival with the beauty of lights and ideas of good triumphing over evil. Plan to attend this in October.

Buddhism is a philosophy which developed in Asia. Both followers called Buddhists, people of other faiths and of no faith are enriched by its ideas and practices.

The Islamic tradition respects the various messengers from God, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and especially Mohamed who brought the revelations of the Quran. Students from Saudi Arabia have invited all to a celebration for Eid with music, dance, displays and food.

UIW is a Catholic school. The church founded by Jesus Christ has many expressions in Roman Catholicism, Orthodox traditions and Protestantism.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are called Abrahamic traditions that developed from similar roots in the Middle East. They affirm one Creator who is compassionate. In San Antonio, Jewish and Christian religious leaders have a long history of cooperation for the common good. Rabbi David Jacobson of Beth-El worked Catholic and Episcopal bishops to integrate San Antonio in the 1960s.

Sikhs are respected for lovingly serving Langor, a meal for anyone who comes. All share the same food and sit on the same level revealing that the Creator has made all people equal. Sikhism — founded by Guru Nanuk in India — is the fifth-largest religion in the world.

All people are called to recognize the challenges of poverty, climate change, and violence and to unite as the human family. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals are ways of helping us to work together globally for the common good.

UIW was “born in civic engagement.” In the 1860s the San Antonio mayor asked for help because there was no public health care. Then three young French women, the first Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, responded and founded the first hospital in our city. The university is rooted in this history of compassionate care for the sick, the orphans, and the uneducated. We continue developing innovative and compassionate service in light of today’s pressing needs.

Interfaith literacy is a pressing

We encourage you to do service uniting with people of different faiths and serving people of different faiths. The Ettling Center for Civic Leadership has information and opportunities.

Sister Martha Ann Kirk of Religious Studies, Dr. Lopita Nath of History and Dr. Susan Hall of the Center for Teaching and Learning will be sharing with faculty and staff so that they have a breadth of materials to share with students.


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