Five Students Attend Pittsburgh Iftar Dinner, Program

by Public Relations | Jun 12, 2018

June 12, 2018

Five SVC students attend Pittsburgh Iftar dinner program

Five Saint Vincent College students accepted an invitation to learn about the custom of fasting during the month-long observance of the Islamic period of Ramadan and attended the annual Humanity Day Iftar Dinner at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh on June 7. Fr. Thomas M. Hart, O.S.B., second from left, assistant to the president of Saint Vincent College for mission, accompanied, from left, Thomas J. Fitzsimmons of Laytonsville, Maryland, a graphic design major; Jordan M. Joseph of Verona, engineering science; Alperen Aksehir of Latrobe, business management; Neal M. Nanassy of New Florence, master of science in school administration; and Nathaniel Kohl of Wilmington, Delaware, psychology. They heard a number of speakers including the keynote address by Dr. Younus Mirza, assistant professor of Islamic studies at Allegheny College, who spoke about his recently published book, The Bible and the Qur’an: Biblical Figures in the Islamic Tradition (T&T Clark, 2018). The program concluded with evening prayer at sunset when the daily fast was broken by an extensive assortment of ethnic foods. The students were able to observe how Islamic prayers are conducted and to personally engage in questions and discussion. The participants were impressed by the festive attitude toward fasting, which, while it means no food or drink from sunrise to sunset, welcomed it with joy, drawing some parallels with the experience of Saint Benedict, who recommended in his Rule “to love fasting” (4:13). In advance of the evening’s program, Fr. Thomas oriented the group on the Catholic principles of evangelization and interreligious dialogue, as well as the dual commitment to both faith and reason, which offer an excellent method to overcome religious illiteracy and navigate awareness about Islam. He quoted St. John Paul II, “There can be no question of choosing one and ignoring or rejecting the other [evangelization and dialogue].”


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