Union Station’s grand hall was buzzing with excitement as the Kansas City community celebrated the opening of A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People.
Guests at the reception enjoyed a performance from the Avila University Singers before comments from Avila University President Ron Slepitza, Ph.D. and Union Station Board Chairman Mike Haverty. The Most Reverend Robert W. Finn, D.D., Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Rabbi Alan Cohen, director of interreligious affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee, each gave a blessing of the exhibit, continuing Pope John Paul II’s vision of interfaith relations.
“It is a joy for me to be able to participate in the inauguration of this exhibit on Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” Finn said. “I also wish to express my solidarity with Rabbi Alan Cohen and all our Jewish people, and my prayer that this Union Station exhibit – at the center of our Kansas City metropolitan area - will help many to learn about the goodness we share, and how we may be more and more ‘A Blessing to One Another.”
“The opportunity to help open this exhibit with a prayer is a unique one and a special occasion and moment to be marked,” Cohen said. “Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, sheheheyanu, v'keyimanu, v'hegeyanu, lazman hazeh. Praised are, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this great moment."
After the blessing of the exhibit, co-creators James Buchanan, Ph.D. and Rabbi Abie Ingber gave guests a sneak peek of the exhibit, encouraging them to share their experience with family and friends. Buchanan also presented the 2009 Harry S Truman Lecture titled, “Responding to Globalization: The New Challenges for Interfaith Dialogue in the 21st Century.”
Avila University, as host of the exhibit, celebrated the exhibit’s opening with family, friends and donors, including J.M. Fahey Construction, Time Warner Cable and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Slepitza described the exhibit opening as a spectacular affair.
"There are moments in a university’s history where it aspires to exist on a new plane of excellence, where it becomes even truer to its mission, to its sense of community, to its vision, and to its position in the community,” Slepitza said. “These moments propel us forward in ways that, at the time, we cannot even fathom. I believe this was one of those moments for Avila.”
The exhibit will be on display until March 27, 2009, at Union Station in the newly-renovated Arthur Stilwell Room. For more information about the exhibit A Blessing to One Another, special events associated with the exhibit or to volunteer, go to www.avila.edu/blessing/ or call Avila University Public Relations Specialist Michelle Key at (816) 501-2434.
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.