St. Edward’s hosts the first art exhibition in Texas honoring Pope Francis’ success


Pope Francis on “Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: A Photo Exhibition” ran from Feb. 16 to Mar. 16

St. Edward’s University is currently hosting the first Texan art exhibition displaying historical images of Pope Francis’ visit to Israel this past May.

“Pope Francis on Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: A Photo Exhibition” will be running from Feb. 16 to Mar. 16, by courtesy of the Consulate General of Israel in Houston, St. Edward’s Campus Ministry, the Center for Religion and Culture and President Barack Obama’s Interfaith Challenge.

In the words of Pope Francis, “It is neither of a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue. This is the only way to peace.”

In 2014, in honor of the Ecumencial Celebration on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Jerusalem meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, Francis traveled to Israel in hopes of further strengthening Christian and Jewish relations.

Photos in the art exhibition include Pope Francis praying at Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem); Kotel (otherwise known as The Western Wall); and The Cenacle (Room of the Last Supper), among other visits with religious Jewish leaders.

St. Edward’s alumna Jessica Liss is the academic affairs officer at the Consulate General of Israel.

She coordinated with Dr. James Puglisi, associate director of Campus Ministry, in August of 2014 to plan this cultural event.

Hillel Toppers President Elia Norton spoke on behalf of St. Edward’s Jewish tudent organization.

“In the Jewish faith, we pride ourselves on our dedication to the community and to the principles of Tzedakah and good deeds. We practice Tukkun Olam, a concept and Hebrew phrase that means ‘repairing the world,’” Norton said. “Pope Francis represents … just what Tukkun Olam asks of us – to heal the world and leave this place better than it was when we came.”

Distinguished guests from the Texas governor’s office included Cammy Jones, the director of international protocol at the Office of the Secretary of State, and Avdiel Yosef Huerta, assistant secretary of state for Mexico and border affairs at the Office of the Secretary of State.

Also in attendance was Director of the Jewish Community Center Jay Ruben. Besides Liss, Deputy Consul Daniel Agranov was in attendance representing the Consulate General of Israel to the southwest of the United States.

Along with Israeli wine, Agranov also provided his thoughts on Jewish-Catholic relations in the modern day.

“I think in these days, after what happened in Paris and … Copenhagen, it is very important to be together – Jews, Muslims, Christians – getting together against the radicals,” Agranov said. “I think (Francis’) visit to Israel this summer was his way to show his recognition and support to the state of Israel.”

Director of the Center for Religion and Culture Father Lou Brusatti then spoke on the 50th Anniversary of “Nostra Aetate”, a watershed document written by the Vatican II after the Holocaust.

Brusatti also touched on the honor for St. Edward’s to recognize the importance of these two historic events that are being universally celebrated.

“My own hope is that this exhibition will continue to further that cooperation and dialogue between Catholics and Jews, particularly here in the city of Austin and in our own communities of faith,” Brusatti said.

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