For more information contact: Michelle Key, Public Relations Specialist
Work: 816-501-2434  
Email: Michelle Key  

  Avila brings exhibit, lectures and performances to KC  
  Kansas City, MO    
December 2, 2008

In spring 2009, during the exhibit, A Blessing to One Another, the Kansas City community will have the opportunity to follow in the fatal footsteps of the victims of the Krakow Ghetto by walking through a replica of the Krakow Ghetto gate. During the exhibit, visitors share the somber mood experienced by those that desperately tried to pass through, hoping to be chosen a “worker” instead of chosen for death.  

The interactive exhibit at Union Station follows the life of Pope John Paul II from his childhood through his role as pope, celebrating his contributions to relations between the Catholic and Jewish faiths. The multimedia exhibit includes videos, photographs, artifacts, personal notes handwritten by the pope, as well as the opportunity for visitors to place their hand into a bronze imprint of Pope John Paul II’s hand.  Just like Jerusalem’s Western Wall, commonly known as the Wailing Wall, exhibit visitors are encouraged to write a prayer to be placed it in the wall’s replica where all notes will be gathered at the exhibit’s close and sent to the real Western Wall in Israel.

Sponsored by Avila University, the exhibit is accompanied by interfaith panels, renowned lecturers, and theatrical performances, tied in to the Pope’s legacy. Community religious leaders will be speaking together to bridge the gap between Christians and Jews.

The exhibit kicks off Feb. 3, with the Harry S. Truman Lecture Series featuring exhibit co-creator Dr. James Buchanan. He will present, “Responding to Globalization: The New Challenges for Interfaith Dialogue in the 21st Century.” Michael J. Devine, Director of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, will open the evening by discussing the importance of President Truman’s recognition of the state of Israel. Most Reverend Robert W. Finn, D.D., Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph will bless the exhibit and the Avila University Singers will perform. Opening night festivities are open to the public on Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Extreme Screen Theatre at Union Station.

Avila will also host an Interfaith Dialogue Community Day, bringing together religious leaders from across the country. Catholics and Jews will come together with the Kansas City community to discuss relationships, peace and understanding. Featured speakers include Fr. Dennis McManus and Rabbi James Rudin, with other community religious leaders taking part. McManus is a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Interreligious and Ecumenical Affairs Committee in Washington D.C. Rudin has personally met Pope John Paul II and participated in events with the pope during his trip to Israel in 2000. The Interfaith Dialogue Community Day is open to the public on March 1, at 3:30 p.m. also in the Extreme Screen Theatre.

On March 2, Avila will host a similar interfaith dialogue event for clergy members only. This event will allow for more in-depth discussion and application of interfaith relationships. The Interfaith Dialogue Clergy Day is open to clergy members only on March 2, at 9 a.m. in the City Stage Theatre at Union Station.

Throughout the exhibit, Avila University and Theatre for Young America will co-produce the play “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.” This play is based on the writings of children who passed through the Terezin concentration camp in World War II. The performances will be held at the City Stage Theatre on select Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For a complete list of performance dates and times, visit

As with all Union Station exhibits, special group tours are always welcomed. Teachers wanting educational packets and information on field trips may contact Susan Walker, director of development at or 816-501-2450. Other groups requesting private tours may also contact Walker.

Bringing in multiple events to coincide with the exhibit is exceptional, but what really makes this event unique is the cost. Through generous contributions from community partners, the traditional ticket fee for most events has been waived. With the exception of the $3 ticket to see “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” Avila University and its partners are bringing the inspirational events and exhibit to Union Station at no cost to the public.

The exhibit itself will be on display from Feb. 3 to 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 or to volunteer, go to 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.