Invocations for peace will include Hindu Krishna chanting; readings of passages from Baha’i, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Hebrew, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic scriptures; as well as Sufi poetry as people of all faiths are invited to share in Interfaith Voices for Peace. The prayers, songs and chants will be from 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 6367 St. Charles Ave.
An upsurge in violence in the Middle East as well as in U.S. cities has left many Americans wondering what any individual can possibly do.
“For people of faith, the first thing to do is pray,” said the Rev. Emile “Buddy” Noel, head of the Office of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs for the Catholic Archdiocese.
“It is important as people of faith to pierce the darkness and spread our light,” said Noel, who has been studying and initiating dialogue with other religious leaders over the past 20 years.
The Catholic priest was inspired, after listening to Pope Francis speak from the Vatican, to summon local religious leaders for the evening of unified prayer at the church on the campus of Loyola University. People of all faiths are invited to share in the Interfaith Voices for Peace.
The program will begin with Catholic school students, Knights of Columbus and their wives assisting in a Turkish welcome led by Atlas Foundation, a multicultural organization dedicated to fostering human understanding, tolerance, respect and love.
“Volunteers will sprinkle rose water onto open palms as we do on religious holidays, then give each a traditional Turkish Delight sweet,” said Emrah Ektepe, Atlas’ state director.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be joined by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sheriff Marlin Gusman to deliver welcome comments.
Abdu’l-Bahá, founder of the Baha’i faith, wrote: “O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole Earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.” The prayer will be spoken that evening.
“Basic values are similar to all — they’re human values,” Noel remarked.
Native Americans from the Point-au-Chien tribe in the Houma-Thibodaux Catholic diocese will perform a smudge ceremony and deliver an invocation to the Four Directions, the world’s spirits in their beliefs.
“It is beautiful to see what we all share alike and appreciate the differences, because inside we are all the same,” said Cathie Eustis, a member of the ecumenical council. “There’s an enrichment you get from learning from the other faiths.”
The program will have diverse musical offerings, including Loyola’s Genesis Gospel Choir and a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace,” Krishna percussion and an original peace anthem performed by Eric Lumière.
The Rev. Ronald Unger, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, in Kenner, studied world religions in seminary and keeps a copy of the Quran on his desk.
Peace is what does unite us, Unger said.
A passage from the Quran will be spoken by Imam Rafeeq NuMan, of Masjid Ur-Rahim mosque. “Good and evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good. And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend.”
The service will close with a lighting of the candles passed to all in attendance, who will file outside the church onto St. Charles Avenue, spreading their light.