Catholic-Jewish-Moslem 'Trialogue' Ends First Decade

With the introduction last fall of the Jewish-Christian-Moslem dialogue series organized by Asst. Prof. Rabbi Ruth Langer (Theology), Boston College reaffirmed a tradition of serving as a meeting place for persons of different faiths.

In 1987, part-time faculty member Raymond Helmick, SJ (Theology), began hosting at BC a series of "Trialogues" between area Catholics, Jews and Moslems. While the series organized by Rabbi Langer has been academic in nature, the Trialogue program was tailored to a community audience, drawing participants from local Catholic parishes, Jewish groups, and the Islamic Center of New England, a Quincy mosque.

The Trialogue series has its roots in a program of Catholic-Jewish dialogues launched in the early 1980s by the Boston Archdiocese. Fr. Helmick, who was teaching courses in interfaith relations at St. John's Seminary at the time, began attending the sessions around 1984, by which time Moslems had been invited to attend. When the group's meeting space in Harvard Square was destroyed in a fire, Fr. Helmick began hosting the Trialogue sessions at St. Mary's Hall.

Part-time faculty member Raymond Helmick, SJ (Theology).

Perhaps a dozen participants attended the meetings, which were held every other month, and dealt with community issues as well as interfaith relations, Fr. Helmick said. Religion and politics are not normally conducive to polite conversation, but the Trialogue sessions proved so convivial that even the most divisive of issues among Jews, Moslems and Christians were aired amicably, he said.

"For a long time, we carefully avoided the subject of the Middle East," he said. "After a while, group members got so comfortable with each other, they could discuss this touchiest of political and religious topics."

Fr. Helmick said the group's next meeting has been tentatively scheduled for May 20.

-Mark Sullivan

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