Interfaith group expanding to welcome all faith groups

Andrea Guzman

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The Interfaith Leadership Council (ILC) is revamping efforts to engage the estimated 50 faith groups on campus.

With hopes to expand more in the upcoming semesters, this council plans on creating more branches and collaborating with secular organizations on campus.

The council, under the guidance of Associate Director of Campus Ministry James Puglisi, is student led and currently consists of three branches: an interfaith dialogue group, a partnership with an interfaith peer minister and a religious alliance for women. Because St. Edward’s University is a Catholic institution, the branches make efforts to specifically serve a sectarian college campus.

Though the council has existed in previous years, their efforts focused mostly on interfaith discussion. Now, the council is working to provide a space for various faith groups to organize themselves. It utilizes the interfaith youth core and a national movement for interfaith cooperation, each serving to brainstorm ways to reach out to all faith groups at St. Edward’s.

“We certainly don’t want it to be an imposition on campus. We just want it to be a resource that is creating awareness,” ILC president Zwiesineyi Chindori-Chininga said.

ILC plans to ensure that the existing ones are well established before introducing other branch ideas. Branches that could exist in the future include a religious alliance for men, an interfaith book club and an interfaith athletes alliance.

The council has only been able to accept interest, rather than reach out to students themselves, as requesting one’s religious identity through a survey is a “sensitive issue,” said Chindori-Chininga.

“How can we assist in this sort of lacking of the interfaith state on campus?” said Chindori-Chininga, addressing the purpose of the ILC.

As for the council’s growth, Chindori-Chininga said future plans for the council would be to integrate members of SGA and other secular organizations on campus into ILC. Additionally, collaboration with the faith organizations that already exist on campus.

“It’s hard focus in on specific traditions when there’s just so few numbers,” Puglisi said.

Discussing how other universities have hired imams or chaplains Puglisi said, “they [larger universities] have enough students to justify a salary. We don’t have that. That’s a challenge of a small school so a group like interfaith leadership council is a very good resource.”

The religious alliance for women led by Sarah Al-Shaikh, had their first meeting Oct. 13. Male and female students are invited to be a part of the group.