Dialogue for Peace

By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

“O God you are eternal life and everlasting peace by your essence,” prayed the seventy-some women and men who participated in the 3rd annual Muslim/Christian Women’s Dialogue, sponsored by the Benedictine Sisters of Rock Island. The doors opened with flowing crowds coming from their study clubs, their Scripture groups, coming with their spouses, their daughters, their mothers and by themselves. They came until all chairs were filled and the room was electrified with greetings of, “It is so good to see you again!” “I don’t recall your name but you were at my table last year!”

Cleon VanderVennet and Dr. Lisa Zaynab Killinger at the 3rd Annual Muslim-Christian Women's Dialogue, sponsored by the Benedictine Sisters of Rock Island, Ill.

Muslims, Catholics, Lutherans and many others came to reach across the aisle at the Quad City Mosque, Monday October 13 and October 20. Talia Alvi and Sr Joan McCorkell, OCD, spoke the first evening on “Jesus and Mohammed: the Man,” while  Lisa Killinger and Cleon VanderVennet (above) presented the second evening program on “Jesus and Mohammed: Their Mission.”

Following the presentations, the participants gathered in small groups made up of both Christians and Muslims to address two questions: What did I hear that surprised me? And, What insight did I gain tonight?

Praying and discussing side by side, although not glossing over differences, showed the strong bond which these searchers for peace have. It is through these dialogues that believers meet one another at the level where misunderstandings are overcome namely before God.

The reluctance to conclude the evening’s dialogue indicated the genuine interest, the commitment to dialogue and the awareness of our unity. Only after the assurance that the dialogue would continue in the Quad City area were the participants willing to conclude the program. All stood to pray the prayer of St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Ascending the stairs the crowd lingered outside the prayer room of the Mosque, attentive to the Muslim community praying, in Arabic, their last evening prayer of the day.

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