August 25, 2023

That All May Be One / Fr. Rick Ginther

Interreligious relationships can enrich personal, spiritual life

Fr. Rick GintherRecently, a Passionist priest came to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis for a mission appeal. He had flown from Australia, where he works in the Passionist headquarters and assists at a large local parish. His “base” for his mission appeals is in Louisville, Ky.

He grew up in India, in the southeastern-most state of Tamil Nadu. To the west is the state of Kerala. Both are home to the majority of Indian Catholics.

Father Giltus Mathias is one of four children. His late father was Roman Catholic, his mother, Hindu.

Raised as a Catholic, he grew up learning to appreciate the Hindu philosophy, its feasts, food, and customs.

He told me his life of faith was richer because of his exposure to Hinduism. Richer, but not threatened.

His relationships with both Catholic father and Hindu mother were primary and formative. Baptized a Catholic, he embraced his faith even as he witnessed another.

This past year I met a married couple: he, a practicing Jew, she a practicing Catholic. They raised their three children in the Catholic faith. They attended synagogue on Saturday, and their Catholic parish on Sunday.

This family found a richness in the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. They spoke openly about their varied religious and worship experiences. Because of this, they remain open to a variety of interreligious relationships.

Throughout my life, I have been blessed to know other people in interreligious marriages. Their trust in their relationship has allowed them to be open to what is different and what is good in the other’s belief structure.

Not all of us have been able to meet such couples. Not all of us have been able to be in relationship with a person of another religion.

It is the relationship as human beings which comes first. The trust built through the relationship can lead to openness to our differences, especially how we see God, pray, worship and the culture(s) from which our religions emerge and blend.

On Sept, 10 from 1-5 p.m., the 11th annual Festival of Faiths will take place at University Park in downtown Indianapolis.

As in past years, many religions will be represented: Sikh, Hindu, Jain, Bahá’i, Islam, Judaism, Buddhist, Pagan, Latter Day Saints, Roman Catholic, and other Christians, to name a few.

“Nourishing our spirits” is this year’s theme. The festival booths will offer a variety of ways each religion feeds the spirit of its believers: prayer, worship, fellowship, food, festivals.

The archdiocese will have three conjoined booths.

Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House will show how a retreat house offers spiritual nourishment opportunities for Catholics, Christians, and others. In 1996, Fatima was the host for the inaugural and subsequent meetings of the Midwest Region Catholic-Muslim Dialogue of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The archdiocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs will occupy the other two booths. In one, the Eucharist as “the source and summit” of our spiritual nourishment will be the central focus. In the last, various Catholic spiritualities—Benedictine, Dominican, Franciscan and Jesuit—will be offered. Practitioners of each will share the uniqueness in how it expresses a Catholic spiritual life.

The festival offers moments for all visitors from a variety of religions to learn something about each other. Such learning, if carried forward, can lead to understanding. This can lead to appreciation and strong interreligious relationships and a growth in the value and embracing of one’s own religion.

Come! Explore the spiritual richness, diversity, and commonalities of the human spiritual journey. Be well fed, literally and figuratively!

Be moved by the Spirit.

(Father Rick Ginther is director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs. He is also the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis.)

Local site Links: