Interfaith Through the Years
Interfaith initiatives have been an important part of Xavier University for many years. In 1965, Pope Paul VI released his declaration, Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), which addressed the relationship of the Church with Non-Christian Religions. Following this declaration, a universal sense of importance for interreligious dialogue emerged. Nostra Aetate sparked discussion of different religions and an appreciation of the similarities and differences among all people and cultures.
In the 1990’s, an organization called the Diversity of our Religions (DOORS) was established on Xavier’s campus in the spirit of Nostra Aetate. Originally, this was an initiative of the Office of International Student Services. These students focused on celebrating religious diversity on Xavier’s campus and in the surrounding community.
In 2005, a group of students took the ideas and values of DOORS and established the Xavier Interfaith Club. This year also marked the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, and the importance of Pope Paul VI’s message reemerged. The Interfaith Club offered on- and off-campus opportunities for students to engage in many different religious traditions. They made an effort to learn from the surrounding community by organizing visits to various places of worship, and leading discussions on current religious issues. On campus, the Interfaith Club began an Interfaith Retreat which allowed for deeper exploration and understanding of Xavier’s religious diversity.
One of the most significant and enduring projects the Interfaith Club undertook was the creation of the Interfaith Prayer Space. Recognizing the need for a neutral prayer location on campus, the Club collaborated with the Student Government Association, Campus Ministry, and other university departments to establish an Interfaith Chapel in Husman Hall. This space is open to all students and is equipped with a carpet, prayer rugs, and a fountain for ablution (ritual washing).
In the summer of 2008, the university administration invited Rabbi Abie Ingber to create the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, a new organization within Xavier fully dedicated to continuing interfaith work on campus and in the Cincinnati area. From its inception, the office has grown into the energetic and unique Center we are today; hosting engaging events throughout the academic year and offering an international medical service trip to Guatemala each Spring. Additionally, students may apply to join the Interfaith Leadership Cabinet for an opportunity to deepen their relationships with one another, and build further understanding of other cultures and religions.
Along with the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, several other offices within Xavier offer interfaith initiatives and dialogue on campus, including The Center for Mission and Identity and the Center for Faith and Justice.