January 27, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Devotional book fosters interfaith understanding

When someone suggested last year that I contribute to a 20th anniversary devotional book being published by IAI: Interfaith Alliance Indianapolis, I did not follow through. Why? Because after prayer, I knew in my heart that I should decline. I did not understand why then. Now I do. If something of mine had been accepted, I would not feel free to feature the book now. As is, I can report on it with objectivity.

I endorse and applaud the depth and the variety of the contributors’ works. Each shares a quotation from a sacred book, plus a prayer and personal experiences or observations. The readings are so varied that one comes away with gratitude and a better understanding of varied religions.

The book is divided into sections representing Religious/Spiritual Journeys; Appreciation for Those of Different Faith; Prayer, Poetry, Images and Visions; Dialogue, Listening and Peace; International Faith; and Indianapolis and Interfaith Alliance Indianapolis.

IAI membership includes six Indianapolis Catholic parishes, the Carmelites of Indianapolis and the Brebeuf Jesuit community in addition to the Butler Seminar on Religion as well as a variety of Christian/Protestant, Baha’i, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Sikh, and Universalist faith groups.

It is impossible to mention all 39 contributors for the 55 devotionals, but—because this is a Catholic publication—I list these Catholic writers and parishes in the order of their appearance: John Shaughnessy, assistant editor of The Criterion and member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Indianapolis, whose foreword first appeared as an Indianapolis Star article last May; Jeff Fites from St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield; Mary Weber, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis; Lola McIntyre from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis; Judith Cebula from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish; Benedictine Father Boniface Hardin, founder and president of Martin University in Indianapolis; and Carmelite Sis Marcie Malone, a member of the Monastery of the Resurrection in Indianapolis.

Other Catholics and parishes noted among the 30 members of the IAI Plenum Board since 1992 are Carl Boehler from St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis; Jack Hill, a member of St. Luke Parish in Indianapolis; Mary Prouty and Mark Prouty from St. Pius X Parish as well as Father Clem Davis, pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, who was one of the early faith leaders when IAI began in 1985.

Another initiative was the founding of the “Hamilton Niss Memorial Youth Award” recognizing Indiana high school students who demonstrate interfaith understanding and significant community service. This is especially important since younger generations are our future faith leaders.

Readers wanting more information about Interfaith Alliance Indianapolis or interested in copies of For the Good of the City ($10 plus $2.50 shipping) should log on to www.interfaithindy.org.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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