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Catholic Studies
| Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue

Mission

Inspired by the Franciscan charism of the Felician Sisters, the Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue is an educational initiative, committed to Madonna University’s core value of respect for every human person, that seeks to promote understanding, justice, and peace through theological and philosophical reflection, scholarship, and dialogue.

Reflection

“Our task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy, else we find ourselves treading on another’s dream. More serious still, we may forget that God was present before our arrival." — (Author unknown)

This quotation captures something deeply true and beautiful about the world we live in. That world is vast and complex, and far greater than our own little lives and perspectives and endeavors. And in this vast and complex world, no one owns God. No one person, tradition, culture, or religion has a monopoly on the unfathomable mystery upon which our universe and our fragile lives rest. That which many of us call “God” is greater than any one of us, greater than any human civilization or intellectual achievement – and greater than our own experience and images. The God that could be comprehended from only one perspective, expressed through only one image, named by only one concept, would not be God. And all of the perspectives, images, and concepts taken together – rich though they be – cannot exhaust the vast and deep mystery at the heart of our existence, and in the heart of every human person.

During the Crusades, Francis of Assisi had the revolutionary idea of reaching out to the Sultan, the leader of the Saracen forces, in peace, in the midst of a brutal war. Both of these men were changed by that encounter. They developed an understanding and respect for one another. They each came away with a keen appreciation of the vibrancy of the other’s faith and depth of devotion to God – and with a deep compassion for the toll of human suffering caused by the divisions of war. In and through all this, each one’s commitment to his own faith was deepened and enriched, reinforced and reinvigorated. The little poor man from Assisi can be a model for us again today in reaching out to one another with humility, with awe, with joy, and with gratitude for the rich blessings of our religious traditions.


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 Vision

At the core of the world’s great religions stands the common conviction that the universe is grounded in goodness. The Catholic tradition of Christianity believes that God created all things with a plan of love. This love reaches its ultimate expression in the self-gift of Jesus the Christ, who embodied and enacted the compassion of God in human form. Jesus reached out to all persons with unconditional love and calls upon his followers in all times and places to do likewise.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) has taken up this call in our time. With its document Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions), the Council urges Catholics to engage in “dialogue and collaboration with members of other religions”: “Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve, and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians” (§2).

Pope Francis reminds us that “the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced.”

 Task

Through a variety of resources, including public lectures, online presence, research and publication, and retreats for meditation and reflection, the Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue provides opportunities for education and engagement, scholarship and interdisciplinary exploration, and sharing in Catholic prayer, life, and culture, primarily in the following areas:

Devotional
Engaging in outreach to the online community with “Prayer of the Day,” online prayer intentions, and other spiritually significant resources. At the center of these services is a working relationship with the Felician Sisters that will make available to members of the Catholic faith and of other faiths a direct connection with the Sisters’ Franciscan charism.

Liturgical
Fostering understanding of and fruitful participation in Catholic liturgies in accord with magisterial guidelines, while also fostering understanding of and respect for the rituals and traditions of other faiths.

Educational
Providing educational resources for students, faculty, staff, and the greater community, including opportunities to research global religion and philosophical trends in religious discourse, and to understand religion and philosophy in the contemporary context.

Diversity Awareness
Providing instructional materials and activities designed to increase the understanding of cultural and religious traditions by sponsoring professional development programs, including lectures, seminars, retreats, and service opportunities that will foster a culture of understanding and interfaith dialogue.

Research
Focused study, research, and scholarly publication on foundational Catholic beliefs in the context of exploring relations with diverse faiths and cultures. Fostering an international community of scholars whose research in various fields contributes to understanding the Catholic tradition, theology, philosophy, interfaith dialogue, international political and economic concepts, and ethical questions in contemporary life.

Dialogue
Stimulating interfaith dialogue between the Catholic intellectual tradition and other faiths and core belief structures. Fostering a vibrant community of discourse by relating the rich Catholic tradition to other religions in the contemporary context, thus creating dialogue with scholars of other faiths and cultures that engages not only theologians and philosophers, but also scientists, social scientists, historians, poets, writers, artists, architects, and musicians.

 Contact

Sister Nancy Marie Jamroz, CSSF, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue
Office: 1300, 734-432-5784, cell: 734-502-7533
snancy@madonna.edu

Andrew Domzalski, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue
Office: 1313, 734-432-5420
adomzalski@madonna.edu

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