August 21, 2015

That All May Be One / Fr. Rick Ginther

Aug. 30 Festival of Faiths focuses on ‘oneness’ which binds believers

Oneness among Christians is our ultimate goal as ecumenists.

That lack of oneness is a source of scandal to us, to those who have no religion, and to other religious believers (e.g., Muslim, as noted in my column in May).

The Festival of Faiths is one means by which people of various religions gather to focus upon a “oneness” which binds all believers: our search for God and God’s meaning in our daily lives, cultures and customs.

The third annual Festival of Faiths will take place from 1-5 p.m. on Aug. 30 in downtown Indianapolis in the Veterans Memorial Plaza, just north of the Indiana War Memorial between Meridian and Pennsylvania streets.

The festival is sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Cooperation and the Festival of Faiths Steering Committee. The 2014 Festival drew more than 2,000 visitors. They mingled among the booths of more than 100 congregations, 22 community organizations, nine universities and 15 food and merchant vendors.

This year, the primary focus for each religious group will be “milestones,” in particular, wedding customs. As in the past, sacred art performances, dialogues, a youth event and ceremonies will punctuate the four hours of exhibitor displays.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has been a partner since the inaugural Festival in 2013. Our presence has increased—from one exhibit to four. Marian University in Indianapolis has been a strong presence and partner with us each year.

The exhibitors from the archdiocese will be the Office of Worship, Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, Office of Intercultural Ministry and Catholic Charities.

The “milestones” focus for the Office of Worship will be the sacraments. The sacraments of initiation—baptism, confirmation, Eucharist—are the first milestones of our faith life to be lived, nourished and shared. The sacraments of healing are milestones of God’s touch, through the Church, whereby we encounter the marvel of mercy which leads to spiritual, emotional and, at times, even physical healing. And of course, the sacraments of service in the Church, marriage and holy orders, are clearly “lived” milestones of the life of faith.

The Office of Intercultural Ministry will focus upon wedding customs and dress among the varied cultural groups, as well as other rites of passage, from teenage years through death.

Catholic Charities will center its display upon how its commitment to “Providing Help, Creating Hope, Serving All” has experienced “milestones” with those in need, especially immigrants and families over the many years of its existence.

Finally, the Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations will provide printed resources such as copies of the “milestone” “Nostra Aetate” (Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Other Religions”), and a summary of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Finger rosaries will also be given away.

The beauty, diversity and vibrancy of the many religions in our communities are a gift we have been given to celebrate. Such a gathering reinforces the focus upon our common humanity by revealing in so many expressions the human longing for the spiritual. And that longing for the spiritual is so clearly embodied in the many religions to be encountered at the festival.

On behalf of the folks from the archdiocese who will be present as exhibitors and participants, please join us on Aug. 30!

(Father Rick Ginther is director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism. He is also dean of the Terre Haute deanery and pastor of St. Patrick and St. Margaret Mary parishes, both in Terre Haute. E-mail him at

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