The Scranton Area Ministerium’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was held on Friday Nov. 20. This annual prayer service seeks to promote interfaith connectivity within Lackawanna County. The University of Scranton is a member of the Scranton Area Ministerium, and a few Royals were in attendance.
Dr. Helen Wolf and Fr. James Redington represented the University. During the event, Dr. Wolf led a prayer of Thanksgiving and introduced two hymns, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” along with a rendition of Psalm 89. Joe Fullam, ‘22 and Bailey McLaughlin ’21 sang the hymns.
The service highlights various religions, such as Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Baháʼí Faith.
The University has been taking part in this service since 2015, and Dr. Wolf said this connected dialogue and appreciation for other religions is important for a Catholic institution.
“Dialogue and engagement with our sisters and brothers practicing religions outside Catholicism is something that Catholics are called to accomplish,” Dr. Wolf said.
This service as well as all of Scranton’s work with the Ministerium has connected the University to its local neighbors who profess belief in God and has allowed them to educate people on global issues.
“As a Catholic university, we engage in interreligious dialogue and relationships to lead people of various faiths to a better understanding of the common issues that affect all in the global world in order to act on them in the pursuit of justice, peace, and the common good,” Dr. Wolf said.
Compared to past years, this prayer service was virtual, whereas every year prior to the COVD-19 pandemic, the location changed to a different worship house. Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Spiritual Leader of Temple Hesed, hosted and coordinated the service from his synagogue, and he was assisted by Ministerium president Mother Rebecca Barnes of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Though not in person, Dr. Wolf said the presentation still moved her when she heard all of the different perspectives present at the prayer service.
“I am always deeply moved when people who have different understandings of the Divine come together to express their faith in various ways,” Dr. Wolf said. “We are taking time to honor and embrace each other in the search for Divine truth with sincerity, respect and love.”
Dr. Wolf said it’s important to bring members of the University community together.
“We share so much but still need more occasions to break down stereotypes and grow closer as neighbors,” Dr. Wolf said. “When we learn about the differences and commonalities among religious traditions, I believe we can grow closer to each other and each to our God.”
In addition, this is a time to being grateful.
“I am very grateful for [all of] the students at the University who strive to further their faith in God,” Dr. Wolf said. “It is an honor to journey with you all.”