Conference on Interreligious Dialogue
By: Michael Loban, December 2007
Some time ago I came back from the trip to Vatican, where I attended a conference on interreligious dialogue. What an amazing experience it was. For me, this conference is a great symbol of what people can accomplish if they engage as a group to create a distinctly better future. Conflicts exist to create relationships, and this is what became so vivid to me, this is what I want to share with others.
During the conference there were a lot of forum discussions and group sessions. One of the discussions that I found very helpful was the commitment conversation that allowed individuals to make promises to the group, and share their commitments to the interreligious dialogue. When we broke out in smaller groups I was amazed to see what people are willing to do for the sake of a larger purpose and not for the sake of personal gain. Talking to each other we focused on gifts and what each of us has the potential to do.
On one of the days I was asked to address members of the group including several Cardinals on how to engage students in a conversation. As I was speaking, I realized that most of everything I had to say I learned from Peter Block and attending group meetings and participating in the Civic Engagement Series.
At the audience with Pope Benedict XVI, I was very touched when I saw how personable the Pontiff was, talking to all the people who were granted a permission to meet him. He spent time talking to each person and expressed his gratitude for their work. Before my trip several people asked me to bring their crosses and rosaries to the audience to have them blessed. I felt something special doing this as I represented the people who might not get this precious and very spiritual opportunity.
I look forward to sharing this experience with other community members that are devoted to the dialogue on transformation.