On the week of March 23 – March 27, the JFRC community had the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of religions that compose the fabric of the world. On Monday, the Student Activities Committee facilitated our biannual silent auction, benefitting the Jesuit Refugee Services and Loyola University Chicago’s Relay for Life. Students, faculty, and staff alike donated a variety of goods and services, ranging from a fresh load of laundry to a private tour of the Vatican Gardens. However, the stakes were raised very high when Student Life Assistant, Mitch Catalano, offered to shave off his beard, and shave his head, if more than 1000€ were raised. Students rose to the occasion, and to close off the evening, Catalano shaved his head with an audience of eager students there to witness the momentous occasion, after more than 1000€ were gathered.
Tuesday brought about a more serious discussion, centered on the role of women within different religions. At a panel discussion, named “Women in Religion”, women representing the Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist faiths described the basic tenets of their religions, also indicating the distinct role of women within their respective beliefs. Panelists also addressed student questions concerning different stereotypes they faced, as well as different rituals and processes that distinguished children from adults. The night ended with an interreligious prayer service, facilitated by Campus Minister Fr. Al Anuszewski, in which scriptures and songs were shared that emphasized the importance of coexisting.
On Wednesday, March 25th, Professors Anne Wingenter and Zara Pogossian led forty JFRC students and staff to visit the Grand Mosque of Rome. The Grand Mosque of Rome, the largest mosque in Western Europe, represents religious harmony for the international community. The Mosque is equally beautiful in its interiors and exteriors. It represents an architectural meeting point of two different religions, and two different architectonic cultures as well. There, students and staff were taken throughout the grounds of the Mosque, inside and through the expansive and impressive library.
Thursday and Friday focused on the Jewish religion, beginning with the celebration of the traditional Passover Seder, facilitated by Dr. Janis Fine, professor of the School of Education for Loyola University Chicago. The Rome Center’s Sala Felice transformed from a conference room into a traditional Jewish seder setting, complete with place settings, candles, and traditional foods that marked the plight of the Jews into the Promised Land. Friday’s tour of the Tempio Maggiore, Rome’s main synagogue, began with an in-depth look into the lives of the Jews in Rome since their initial settlement. The roar of the Tiber River set the stage for the story of how Jews settled and flourished in Rome. The tour of Rome’s Jewish History museum gave students insight on the transformation of Jewish culture in Rome, beginning from the original settlement to today.