Notre Dame Law School held its second annual Interfaith Dinner on April 12 in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Jewish Passover, Easter, and the Baha’i festival of Ridvan.
More than 150 people representing the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Baha’i faiths — both from the University and greater South Bend communities — filled the Law School’s Eck Commons to capacity for a sunset meal, prayer, and discussion.
The celebration coincided with a rare holy period that occurs on the calendar roughly every 30 years in which the religious observances of Ramadan, Lent, Passover, and Ridvan all overlap.
On April 12, the event began at sunset, 8:22 p.m., with the Ramadan tradition of breaking fast with dates and water. Muslims in attendance were then called to prayer.
Dinner featured halal food and matzo. Spiritual leaders from each religious tradition spoke during the meal.
“In a room filled with observers of different faith traditions, breaking bread for iftar as one community was a reminder of our shared humanity, the mutual respect and honor we have for our unique traditions, and the value we hold for our shared belief in something greater than ourselves,” said Max Gaston, the Law School’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Celebrating religious diversity is an essential part of how we create inclusion at Notre Dame Law School.”
Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law G. Marcus Cole added, “Notre Dame is a place where students, faculty, and staff can bring their whole selves, a place where they know that their faith and traditions will be respected and treasured.”
Robert Stockman, dean of Baha’i history, texts, and tenets at the Wilmette Institute, said, “It was wonderful to bring together members of the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Baha’i faiths to break bread and celebrate our common holidays. By recognizing the sacred times that all our traditions commemorate, we strengthen interfaith understanding and cooperation, and cooperation is badly needed in these days of strife between different groups.”
Mahan Mirza, executive director of the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion and teaching professor of Islam and science in the Keough School of Global Affairs, said, “Muslim communities sometimes disagree on the exact day to begin Ramadan or celebrate Eid because of uncertainty in the sighting of the moon. Variations in our religious traditions can be seen as just another order of difference. The coming together of these holidays reminds us that in the end, we are one big human family.”
The Interfaith Dinner was sponsored by Notre Dame Law School’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Notre Dame Campus Ministry, the Program in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, the Middle Eastern Law Students Association, the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, and the LGBT Law Forum.
“It was an honor to be present at this dinner,” said Rev. Robert Lisowski, C.S.C., assistant to interfaith and international ministry with Notre Dame Campus Ministry. “I felt blessed to be able to share my Christian faith with those gathered and to learn about and reverence the faith traditions of others. Gatherings such as this are both beautiful and tremendously important for our times.”