The following article, published in the November-December 2015 NewsNotes, was written by Dr. Gerald and Marita Grudzen of Global Ministries University, based in California, and was originally published in Maryknoll News.
The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Society Center in Nairobi provided hospitality, room, board and conference facility for most of 35 participants in a five-day interfaith conference held … from August 10-14, 2015.
The purpose of the conference was to orient primary and secondary school teachers from diverse areas of Kenya to the potential for interfaith-based religious education, as a vehicle for peace-building in Kenya.
The Kenya-based Maryknoll Sisters [Peace Team] – Giang Nguyen, Sia Temu and Teresa Hougnon – brought a group of teachers, a local imam, and a madrasa teacher from the Tana River Delta area to the conference. This was particularly significant because this area of Kenya has experienced intense intercultural conflict recently, with many fatalities. The sisters have used a conversational method of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, marked by outreach, inquiry, humility and commitment, which has been extremely fruitful in bringing people [in the region] together to resolve their conflicts ... The humble, skillful conversational approach of the Maryknoll Sisters Peace Team shines as a model for peacebuilding.
Judy Walter, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Mombasa, Kenya and Marita Grudzen led a workshop on spirituality and service within the interfaith context. The participants identified over 20 expressions of spirituality and shared stories of community service and personal transformation in small groups as part of the workshop.
Judy Walter has served as a volunteer nurse in Bangladesh, in India, and now manages St. Patrick’s Clinic in Mombasa. She studied interfaith spirituality with Dom Bede Griffith at his ashram in India and will be a founding member of the Lake House of Prayer in Tanzania. The house is sponsored by the local archbishop, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. Judy brings her training in Clinical Pastoral Education, Spiritual Direction, Hospice Chaplaincy and years of contemplative practice.
Fr. Lance Nadeau, MM, gave two presentations during the week. He first spoke on the Challenges and Opportunities for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue in Kenya. Later in the week he spoke on the historical and sociological context of Youth Radicalization in Kenya. Fr. Nadeau works with youth as the Catholic chaplain at Kenyatta University in Nairobi and has studied the problems facing Muslim youth in Kenya. He is also the Regional Superior for the Maryknoll Fathers ad Brothers in East Africa and has had diverse interfaith experiences in Muslim communities of the Middle East, such as in Cairo, Egypt.
The entire course brought together representatives of the four major faith traditions in Kenya: Christianity, Islam, African Traditional Religions and Hinduism, [and] included a Jewish interfaith perspective. As the week drew to a close, the teacher participants developed recommendations about how to incorporate interreligious and intercultural dialogue into their teaching and the communities where they reside. The majority of the teachers in the conference came from the Lamu County and Tana River Delta regions of Kenya, which have experienced either intercultural or interreligious conflict.
Global Ministries University (GMU) developed, implemented and evaluated this third interfaith educational program in Kenya; identified and funded the presenters, their transportation costs; [and] provided funding for transportation of the teacher trainees to Nairobi. GMU hired trained technical experts who provided live streaming of [the] event at the following web link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/global-ministries-presents. Photos of the conference are available at http://www.facebook.com/pathstopeacekenya.