'Interfaith Dialogue' spurs new understanding between religions

In the wake of the recent bombings in Boston, an “International Student Interfaith Dialogue” was held last week by Campus Ministry. The free event, held on April 23 in the MSG Chambers of the Student Union, was utilized as a way to generate conversation and develop understanding between students of different faiths.

At the event, four student volunteers shared about how and why they practiced their particular religions. Student speakers included Ethan Sykes on the Masonic tradition, Habib Ben Messaoud on the Muslim tradition, Milos Bogetic on atheism and Thinlay Lhamo on Buddhism.

Event coordinator Betty Amatangelo thought the dialogue went well. She stated, “How could you go wrong with an Atheist, a Buddhist, a Neo-Pagan and a Muslim sitting at the same table?”

While approximately 25 students attended the dialogue, Amatangelo was hopeful that a wider variety of people would make an appearance. “Unfortunately, people who feel that religion is one of those major topics you should avoid are the people who would benefit most by being at an interfaith program. So although it was no surprise that more people didn’t show up, you still always hope that some of these powerful testimonies would be heard by more students.”

Amatangelo, who has been focusing on interfaith awareness for the past year, estimates that there are about six unique religions represented on the Mercyhurst main campus.

Lhamo, a senior student, felt that she learned the most about atheism during the discussion. She said, “to me an atheist just meant you didn’t believe in anything, but he had his beliefs, which I thought was really interesting.”

She went on to describe the message she took from the event: “The most important thing from events like this is to realize not the differences that are there between us, but more of what we have in common…and learn to respect and accept each other.”

To get involved with future Campus Ministry events, students can sign up to receive the e-bulletin through the Portal, or like the “Mercyhurst Campus Ministry” page on Facebook.