CHRISTIAN, MUSLIM COUPLES EXPLORE INTERFAITH RELATIONSHIP

As America becomes more culturally and religiously diverse, opportunities to meet and marry across religious boundaries increase. Yet there are few resources for interfaith couples, especially Christians and Muslims.

"Interfaith Marriage: When Muslims and Christians Meet and Marry," held February 17-18 at the Cenacle Retreat House in Chicago, attempted to navigate the relatively uncharted waters of ministry to Christian-Muslim couples. Topics covered included: the purpose and sanctity of marriage in Christianity and in Islam; meeting prospective spouses and their families; praying together; raising children; and maintaining family and communal relations. The weekend provided couples with the unique chance to meet others in a similar situation, share their stories, consult with experts, and pray together if they wished.

This year 26 people, mostly from the Chicago area, attended the conference, although some came from Minnesota, Indiana, and even Seattle. Also observing were a handful of local ministers who work with interfaith couples on a regular basis.

The conference was organized by the American Islamic College, Catholic Theological Union, Lutheran School of Theology, Valparaiso University, and the Offices for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and Family Ministries of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Organizers and attendees hope to make the Christian-Muslim Marriage Conference an annual or biannual event.

CATHOLIC-MUSLIM EDUCATION PROJECT

The Catholic-Muslim Education Project was founded in September of 1999 with the goal of increasing understanding between Chicagošs two largest faith communities: Catholics and Muslims (if Christian denominations are counted separately). The project, coordinated by the Archdiocese of Chicagošs Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, is modeled after a successful program already in place for Catholics and Jews. Unique components of the Project include: a joint advisory committee made up of Catholic and Muslim educators working to develop the project and its curriculum; classes team-taught by a Catholic and a Muslim; implementation in both Catholic and Muslim high schools. By the end of the 2000-01 academic year, the Project will have completed 14 teaching sessions in four Chicago schools (three Catholic, one Muslim). Cristo Rey Jesuit High School was one of the schools involved.

The Office for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago has further information on this topic.

Rita George is the Coordinator for the Project. She is a 1997 graduate of Weston (M.T.S.) She has been associate director of the Office for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of Chicago since 1999. Previously, she was assistant editor at Company magazine from 1997 to 1999.

Rita S. George
Associate Director
Office for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs
Archdiocese of Chicago
155 E. Superior Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
ph 312.751.5325
fax 312.787.1554


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