• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 27 April 2018 10:35

Deep listening and personal contact the key to Interfaith Relations


SIP Alice Springs 450The people of Alice Springs were treated to a thought-provoking discussion recently when Fr Nick de Groot SVD delivered a presentation which posed the question, ‘Different Religions: friend or enemy?’

Fr Nick is the Director of the Janssen Centre for Spirituality in Boronia, Victoria, a retreat and hospitality centre with a special focus on being a place of welcome for interfaith and intercultural relations.

He was in Alice Springs to speak at a Spirituality in the Pub event at the Todd Tavern, hosted by the local Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish.Fr Nick says he began his presentation by speaking from his own experience as a Catholic priest.

“We began with a chant, because that is part of my experience and chant is common to all the major religions, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian,” he says.“I find it helps to bring people to a quiet place where they can listen with an open heart.

“So, I shared with the gathering a video from YouTube which featured Psalm 53 being chanted in Aramaic. It was the chant offered to Pope Francis when he visited Georgia.”

That was followed by a second YouTube reflection from Karen Armstrong on Interfaith and the Field of Compassion.

“Karen argues that when each religion comes from its core principle of compassion, which all the major religions share, we are able to engage together.”

Fr Nick then shared a slide on the Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you’ – yet another unifying principle shared by all major religions.

“If you look at the top 13 religions of the world, that actually represents about 5 billion people, out of a total world population of seven-and-a-half billion,” he says. “So a great proportion of the world’s population subscribe to this same basic rule.”

Referring to a paper from Matthew Wright entitled ‘The Islam that I Love’, Fr Nick said it is impossible to speak of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism as monolithic religions.

SIP Alice Springs Nick 450“You can’t say ‘Islam says’, but only ‘some Muslims say’. It’s the same with Christianity. All religious traditions are constantly evolving new realities. It is never finished.”

Fr Nick shared with the people of Alice Springs his experience as a missionary in Papua New Guinea for 30 years and how it taught him the importance of listening in intercultural settings.

“It’s about emptying yourself of the things you take for granted in your own tradition so that you can get close to the people,” he says.“I faced the same situation when I came to the Janssen Centre and began engaging with people of different cultures and religions.

“I had to ask, ‘what are these people saying?’ It has been a wonderful experience. A deep, contemplative listening, which has put me in touch with people from Muslim and Buddhist backgrounds.

“What I discovered as a Catholic priest is that God’s love is for every single person and everything in the world and to claim any kind of prerogative or specialness doesn’t fit with the greatness of God.

”Fr Nick says the work of interfaith relations must happen at a personal level.

“This kind of work can’t be done by books or TV or the internet, it needs to be person to person contact. And it can be life-changing,” he says.

Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Fr Asaeli Raass SVD says Fr Nick’s presentation was well received by those who attended and could serve to kick-start a more ongoing conversation about interfaith relations in Alice Springs.

“It went really well because Nick approached it from his own experience,” Fr Raass says. “It wasn’t academic and that was good, because the people wanted to get to the core element of why the Church is going into interfaith relations and why it’s a movement that can’t be stopped.

“In Alice we have a strong ecumenical relationship in the town but not so much interfaith, although it has been stronger at different times in the past.

“So part of our vision here is to resuscitate interfaith relations in Alice Springs and as a parish, we will do some follow-up on Nick’s presentation and see what we might do at the local level.”