News

Interfaith Prayer Service creates a means of cultural connection

by Shawnuk Ballal (’25) and Rohit Khorana (’24) | February 14, 2022

Photo by Nicole Schubert (’22)

In late January, Saint Francis held the Interfaith Prayer Service, an annual event where students from diverse religious backgrounds share stories from their faith and reflect on their experiences. Mr. Andrew Brown, the Associate Director of Campus Ministry and Ignite Youth Group moderator, organized the service, which focused on Inspiring Integrity, this year’s BRIC theme. Students shared prayers from their faiths, including Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, Christianity, Baháʼí, Hinduism, and Jainism; additionally, Arhana Aatresh (’23) gave her testimony about living with integrity.

Many student leaders were able to share their experiences of presenting at the service. Anika Bastin (’23), who gave the opening prayer, appreciated the deeper sense of community that the service offered: “I thought it was a really peaceful way to start the second semester. Overall, it was a very fulfilling experience.” She also valued the unique aspects of the multitude of religions that the service displayed: “I think it was a great show of the diversity at Saint Francis and how we are embracing that diversity more acutely.”

Adarsh Gupta (’23) delivered his own Baháʼí prayer. He comes from a varied background, with a Baháʼí mother and Hindu father. He stated that “the idea of interfaith is very common in my family, and I wanted to share this feeling with the rest of the Saint Francis community through the religion I feel most closely associated with.”

Near the end of the service, Aatresh shared an inspiring speech on how the interfaith perspective helped inform her sense of integrity: “Putting my thoughts on paper and verbalizing them to the school helped me realize how important everything I was talking about truly was, and how it could help the student body be more accepting and curious.” 

After many fascinating prayers, stories, and reflections, Madame Rachel Safier delivered an interactive speech on the concept of wellness and the importance of building community. She referred to the art of tai chi, an effective exercise that promotes serenity of the mind, body, and spirit. At the end, students were able to perform these graceful movements themselves!

Mr. Brown and other faculty from Campus Ministry played an important role in guiding student leaders: “We sought out participation and involvement, so we talked to some student leaders who could represent their faith. We asked them to share their own prayer and take ownership of it.”  He emphasized the nature of the event as “a celebration of individuals’ faith practice[s], rituals, and devotions” and an opportunity to “[bring] awareness to those that do not have a religious affiliation.”

Overall, the Interfaith Prayer Service was a huge success that allowed students to gain a richer understanding of a variety of faith traditions and learn about the school’s theme of integrity. Students also learned valuable lessons regarding the importance of forming relationships and having an open mind. Through the opportunity to speak about their faiths on a platform, presenters were able to teach their peers about themselves and their religion, conveying the importance of fostering healthy relationships to strengthen community.

Categories: News

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