Last month our 10th grade class visited a Buddhist Vihara as a part of their faith formation curriculum. During the course of the year, these teens get to explore questions of world religions, learn about different faith traditions, and meet folks from different spiritual backgrounds. This includes opportunities to visit different houses of prayer, and meet the people who make those spaces their spiritual home. We believe this offers teens a chance to deepen their understanding of their Catholic faith, in light of diverse religious traditions.
After their visit to the Buddhist Vihara, a post about this experience on Facebook received dozens of negative comments. After learning about the online reaction, our 10th graders engaged in a powerful, respectful conversation about why it’s important to them to have the opportunity to learn about other faith traditions. Of their own volition, they composed a response to their online critics with the hope of sharing it. Here is what they wrote:
“Last week our class visited a Buddhist Vihara. Our post [on Facebook] received much negative feedback. As the tenth grade class, we would like to say we’re grateful for the opportunity we had to explore another religion, and learn their perspective. We ask you to be open-minded and compassionate. Thank you for supporting us wherever we are on our journey.”
As the staff and volunteers who work with these young people, we are so incredibly proud of their thoughtfulness and willingness to engage new ideas. Our Catholic faith tradition calls us to love our neighbor, and Pope Francis has encouraged a “culture of encounter.” In recognizing the diversity and beauty in faith traditions from around the world, our teens seek opportunities to learn and grow. We see the future of the Church in their passion, spirit, and commitment to see God in all of creation. They are our future, and our future is bright.
Star Tribune 2/5: http://www.startribune.com/pope-francis-to-hold-historic-mass-on-arabian-peninsula/505342182/
Star Tribune 2/4: http://www.startribune.com/pope-seeks-dialogue-on-first-papal-trip-to-arabian-peninsula/505268262/