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One of the centerpieces of the University of Toledo’s Religious Studies program is its annual Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue event. The event itself has a fascinating history.
In 2000 the Roman Catholic church celebrated a Jubilee year. Maryse Mikhail, a peace activist, Roman Catholic and active member of the local Arab-American community, decided to help celebrate the Jubilee year by organizing a Catholic-Muslim dialogue event patterned after a similar Catholic-Jewish event that was already in the works. The event was sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, along with both the Catholic Student Association and the Muslim Student Association here on the UT campus. Fr. David Bruning and Dr. Mohammed Alo were the featured speakers in that first event. The following year’s event, with speakers, Dr. Fatima Al-Hayani and Fr. Robert Wilhelm, took on a special poignancy as it was held a mere two days after the tragedy of September 11th. The expression of solidarity that evening among the various student associations was particularly inspiring. Ms. Mikhail began planning for a third annual event, but sadly passed away in the Spring of 2002; her courageous commitment to greater understanding among the religious traditions of the world continues to inspire our work. The event went forward for two more years with Dr. Amjad Hussain and Fr. James Bacik giving presentations both years.
During this time, the University of Toledo had successfully launched its new Religious Studies program, a program that has now grown to have over 25 majors. Those who had been planning the event in previous years agreed that the time was ripe to ask the UT Religious Studies program to take over planning. Dr. David Stern, dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, consulted several faculty associated with religious studies and it was agreed that the event should be broadened to include Judaism and the Protestant as well as Catholic Christian traditions.
Permanent members of the Dialogue Steering Committee include:
Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz, Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies, (Steering Committee Chair)
Dr. Mashhad Al-Allaf, Imam Khattab Endowed Chair in Islamic Studies and Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Rev. James Bacik, Pastor of Corpus Christi University Parish
Rev. Dee Baker, Campus Minister for Toledo Campus Ministry
Ms. Wendy Goldstein, Director, Jewish-Community Relations Council,United Jewish Council
Mr. Geoff Berdy, Director of Jewish Education and Outreach, Toledo Board of Jewish Education
Dr. Amjad Hussain, Emeritus Professor of Surgery, University of Toledo Health Medical School
Student Representatives from the Catholic Student Association, Hillel, Toledo Campus Ministry, Muslim Student Association.