July 24, 2000

Dear Fr. Clooney,

Thank you for your letter of June 23rd regarding ways in which our Center may be responding to the GC 34 Document on Inter-religious Dialogue. And thank you for the invitation to respond by email!

Our Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Marquette University focuses attention upon the faculty, staff and administration of Marquette. It is sponsored by the Marquette Jesuit Community and has been in operation since October 1991. All of our activities are open to all members of the university community and many Christians who are not Roman Catholic have participated in them.

Twice each year we offer a 9 week directed retreat and of the over 350 people who have made the retreat, I would guess that maybe 1/3 or more have been women and men who are Christian but not Roman Catholic. We also have 6 reflection groups which meet on an on-going basis and they are also made up of people of different denominations and traditions.

Fr. Gene Merz who attended GC 34 is on the Staff of our Center. Shortly after the end of GC 34, we began a reflection group which we call the Religious Diversity Group. It stemmed from my desire that we do something to enhance the ecumenical attitudes of Catholics on campus and Fr.Merz's desire to do something to foster inter-religous dialogue on campus and to help people who are not Christian to understand better the Jesuit mission at Marquette. The group meets monthly for an hour and a half for a simple lunch and conversation around religious questions which have emerged in the lives and consciousness of the participants. The group is about 12 in number now and in the 5 years of meeting has included women and men who are Jewish, Hindu, Moslem, members of several Christian denominations and non-believers. Fr. Gene Merz and I are part of the group and do the convening and some very simple facilitation. We want all of our groups to be made up mainly of lay women and men, but have asked Fr. Dick Sherburne,SJ because of his work in Buddhist Studies, and Fr. Baskara Wardaya, SJ (a graduate student from Indonesia) because of his experience with Moslems, to participate also. They share in the same way as all the other people do. The group has been a marvelous experience for all of us. Perhaps the best indication of that for me was the comment of one member who said last year that we ought to name the group the Religious Unity group!

My suggestion for a contact person at our Center is Fr.Gene Merz.

Or, if you have further questions, please feel free to contact me again.

Sincerely, Carol Ann Smith, SHCJ
Director, Center for Ignatian Spirituality
1404 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

Created: September 2, 2000 Updated: September 2, 2000