In the quest to learn more and to learn well about inspiring cultures, educational dialogue, interfaith practice, life skills and coping, and community service related programs, I sought advice, opinions, and wisdom through the life experiences of various subject matter experts (SME) and I believe that it will remain necessary for me to continue doing so if I am to become increasingly well-informed and helpful to others in the areas of greatest interest to me.
The experts that I consulted with are as follows:
Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. is a Trappist monk (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance) and priest, Co-Founded Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., an international, ecumenical spiritual network that teaches the practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, Fr. Keating also helped found the Snowmass Interreligious Conference in 1982 and is the past president of the Temple of Understanding and of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.
Agneta Ucko, is an educator and theologian from Sweden, director of the Arigatou Foundation’s desk in Geneva, Switzerland, and Secretary General of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children, an initiative for children’s rights with a special focus on ethics education and interfaith learning.
Sister Maria Hornung, is Coordinator for Interfaith Education at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia. She entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1954, upon her graduation from Ursuline High School in New Orleans, LA. Following education as a pharmacist, she spent twenty-five years living in Africa in the countries of Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana. In her professional work she served as a pharmacist, hospital administrator, educator, and community leader and collaborated with people of many different faith traditions. During her last years in Africa she served as Sector Coordinator for the Medical Mission Sisters’ mission in the African continent and as a member of its international governing council. From 1987 to 2003 she worked with new MMS members in North America and served as Sector Coordinator in North America. She received her M.Ed. (1970) and her M.A. (1995) in Interreligious Studies from Temple University. Her book, Encountering Other Faiths, was published by Paulist Press in 2007.
Leonard Swidler, is Founder and President of the Dialogue Institute, as well as Founding Editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies. He is Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue in the Religion Department of Temple University, where he has taught since 1966. At Temple, and as a visiting professor at universities around the world – including Graz, Austria; Tübingen, Germany; Fudan University, Shanghai; and the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur – Prof. Swidler has mentored a generation of U.S. and international scholars in the work of interreligious dialogue. Prof. Swidler has a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the University of Tübingen, and received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin; he also holds honorary doctorates from St. Norbert’s College and LaSalle University. Prof. Swidler has published more than 180 articles and 70 books, including: Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue (1978); Religious Liberty and Human Rights (1986); After the Absolute: The Dialogical Future of Religious Reflection (1990); A Bridge to Buddhist-Christian Dialogue (1990); Muslims in Dialogue: The Evolution of a Dialogue over a Generation (1992); Jesus Was a Feminist (2007). The recipient of numerous international awards, he was most recently honored with the establishment of the endowed Leonard and Arlene Swidler Chair in Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University which is located in Philadelphia, PA.
In the remaining chapters of this blogged book, I will describe the practical experience, technical knowledge, and specific resources and tools that the individuals listed above were willing to share with me. I did spend more time with some of them than with others but they have all given to me freely and in large measure.