Thanks for your letter regarding interreligious dialogue. At Brophy Prep, the Jesuit school in Phoenix, about 60% are Catholic, half of those are unchurched. The majority of the rest are Protestant. There are a small number of Jewish students, but they seem to excel in Theology classes. A handful each of Mormons, Muslims and Hindus in a student population of 1,200. Among the faculty, I would estimate about ten of the 85 are Protestant.
In our Theology curriculum, World Religions has been taught as an elective. Our Senior Synthesis class, however, is a required one-semester course in Apologetics. We have worked it out so that persons of various religious traditions can succeed in the class. Each has to present a systematic statement of his faith in the form of a paper to the teacher, a second reader from the faculty, a peer reader and a representative from the student's faith community, and subsequently has to defend his apologetic paper in class. I can send you an outline of the course if you wish.
Our current Theology department chair, Sherman Elliott, agreed that I could be a contact to help your work. And I am happy to do so.
Two related contacts: My wife, Diana, you may remember, is a convert from the Swedenborgian faith. Her father is a retired president of the Swendenborg Seminary in Brookline. The seminary's foundation recently named Diana to their board. She has a passion for ecumenism, and is involved in ecumenical work here in Phoenix as a part of her job coordinating the University of San Francisco's Masters program.
Secondly, it is worth mentioning that the most profound ecumenical event I have participated in ocurred two weeks ago at a community organizing workshop sponsored by PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organizing). PICO is the apostolate of Fr. John Baumann, S.J. Since they empower poor neighborhoods chiefly through inner-city churches, the workshop brought together faith-filled clergy and laity from a variety of denominations. On the Sunday of the week-long training, the various ministers hosted or teamed up for three services! Their website is www.pico.rutgers.edu
Created: September 2, 2000 Updated: September 2, 2000