Transformation through Encounter

In a time when division leads to polarization and the mass migration of displaced and suffering people results in the building of border walls, we have chosen to focus on the transformative power of human encounters across and between religious traditions. Our theme also has a local source of inspiration: the dynamism of an unwavering commitment to interfaith relations here in Rochester, N.Y.

Pope Francis speaks directly to the transformative power of encounter with the other. He identifies it as a dynamic moment, offering clarity, insight, and truth—about ourselves and the other.

“At the beginning of dialogue there is encounter. This generates the first knowledge of the other. If, indeed, we start from the presumption of our common human nature, it is possible to overcome prejudice and falsehood, and to begin to understand the other from a new perspective.”

Each of our speakers will address how this encounter has transformed her or his life’s work: the questions raised about one’s Catholic identity when dialogue with the other begins in earnest, the insights gleaned when one perceives that faith communities are organically interrelated in unexpected ways, and the understandings that demand to be integrated into one’s scholarly worldview.

Taken as a whole, this series invites us to experience theological method at its best: engaging human experiences, seeking the meaning of those experiences in light of our faith commitment, and challenging us to live our faith beliefs through practices that infuse our world with a hope that stands in spite of disappointment, tragedy, or injustice.