The Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs) enjoins viewers on his YouTube interview to be considerate of other people’s religion. Interreligious Education is a part of intercultural education and, like intercultural education, aims to build understanding, tolerance and social cohesion to “actively shape the relations of people of different religions” (UNESCO 2006, p. 14).
How Loyola Jesuit College (LJC) Abuja Integrates Interreligious Education/Dialogue?
Some Muslim students of LJC share their experiences on how schooling in the boarding community has helped them become better Muslims. Let’s meet them:
Raji Imaan, SS1B, stated that the journey has been a bit stressful this Ramadan because she still has to carry the school’s daily heavy workload. She, however, mentioned that the school allows them to pray more, and their parents are allowed by the school to send food materials to them.
Layonu, Tantoluwa Masturat, JS1D, explained in detail how the senior Muslim students in the hostels would wake them by 4 am so they can have breakfast. She mentioned that the most important part of the fasting period is the sharing of food amongst one another. She added that the reason they embark on the fast is to emulate Prophet Mohammed (SAW) who went without food and water for forty days and forty nights just to see God.
Mrs Ona Helen, a teacher in the Religious Department of the college, thinks that interreligious education is about teaching religious beliefs. She is of the opinion that the parents of the students should first be convinced of the value of interreligious education before any attempt is made to create interreligious dialogue awareness in the mind of their children. She is saying the school should obtain permission to introduce the topic of interreligious education in the curriculum. She mentioned some advantages that would accrue from this dialogue such as: curbing the problem of interreligious intolerance because the students would be made to understand that we all are seeking God and consequentially, love for one another would be fostered. Christian students from other denominations would learn to tolerate the tenets of other denominations as they are all talking about the same Jesus Christ. Christians students could cultivate the attitude of giving from the Muslim students who are passionate about almsgiving, while the Muslim students could learn forgiveness and monogamy from Christianity.
In an interview with the Chaplain of the College, Fr. Alex Irechukwu, SJ, he mentioned that interreligious dialogue is very important in the school’s curriculum because social teachings are at the heart of Catholic Education and Jesuits are known for reconciling faith because the concept of Faith is a pathway to God and helping others understand God.
Reflection questions on interreligious dialogue could come up weekly during students’ guidance classes and/or Personal Social Education (PSE) classes.