As the exhibit “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” enters its final month at Union Station, Avila University hosted two Interfaith Dialogue events as forums for bringing together Christians and Jews. Avila University, the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee and Conception Abbey sponsored the events.
Avila first hosted an Interfaith Dialogue Community Day with nationally-known religious leaders Father Dennis McManus, a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Interreligious and Ecumenical Affairs Committee in Washington D.C., and Rabbi James Rudin, American Jewish Committee’s Senior Interreligious Advisor. Both spoke of the history of Christianity and Judaism, and how the two influenced one another. They also spoke about ways to better interact in the community today.
“For us, coming together today is a great achievement,” McManus said. “Look where we are. All of us together. Drawn by the acts of one man.”
McManus said that for Christians and Jews to work together, four statements must be accepted. First, that Jews cannot be blamed for Jesus’ death. Second, that God’s covenant with the Jews is forever valid. Third, that Jews are not forsaken by God. And fourth, that anti-Semitism is a sin against God himself.
The dialogue, held in Union Station’s Extreme Screen Theatre welcomed 150 guests and allowed time for a question-and-answer session, referred to by McManus as “stump the Priest and stump the Rabbi.”
The following day, Avila hosted a similar event for clergy members only. Over 90 clergy from both Christian and Jewish affiliations were in attendance. The clergy dialogue followed a similar outline to the previous day, focusing on ''Partings of the way: What new scholarship teaches us about Christianity & Judaism.'' Following the dialogue, clergy members were invited to a private viewing of the exhibit.
“Pope John Paul II never left his Jewish friends behind,” Rudin said. “This exhibit captures his call for us to be a blessing to one another. Do not forget his plea.”
The Blessing Exhibit will be on display until March 27, 2009, at Union Station in the newly-renovated Arthur Stilwell Room. The exhibit includes 105 free-standing wall panels with 350 secondary images and text panels, 20 flat panel LCD monitors displaying historical footage, an 8-foot replica of the Krakow Ghetto gate and wall, a 20-foot long replica of Jerusalem's Western Wall and more.
For more information about the “A Blessing to One Another” exhibit, the special events connected to 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.