The Cathedral of the Assumption’s gathering space was filled with chatter as people hugged and offered warm welcomes before this year’s Festival of Faiths opening celebration began Nov. 9.
Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre, noting his pleasure at being able to participate in the festivities for the first time, welcomed attendees to the opening of the 26th annual Festival of Faiths “Sacred Stories: Contemplation and Connection,” taking place Nov. 9-12.
He asked his listeners to allow him to speak of their collective “belief in God, a supreme being or supreme beings” in terms of God, as is customary in his Catholic faith. He noted that those gathered recognize the need for faith, but they also recognize the need for unity in their diversity.
Quoting Pope Francis, he said: “Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury, but something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs.”
Calling together people who are focused on a common good has “long been the stance of many different faith traditions,” Archbishop Fabre said. And today, that union is especially important in light of society’s growing secular culture, he said.
The archbishop was joined in the cathedral’s sanctuary by members of other faiths who took turns sharing rituals from their traditions.
Salih Sefendira of the Bosniak American Islamic Center of Louisville performed the Adan, the Muslim call to prayer.
Cantor Sharon Hordes of the Keneseth Israel Congregation sang part of the Passover Haggadah called B’chol Dor Vador.
And the Rev. Dr. Alton Pollard III, president of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, recited the Beatitudes.
The celebration brought singing, chanting, stomping, clapping and some 150 people to the downtown church.
Geshe Kalsang Rapgyal of the Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion offered “Praise for Buddha of Compassion by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Hindu School of Louisville performed a Hindu classical sacred dance.
Singer and songwriter Carrie Newcomer shared two songs, accompanying herself on guitar for one and asking the crowd to accompany her by clapping and stomping for the other selection. The Archdiocesan Gospel Choir sang “Every Praise,” drawing participants to their feet, singing along and holding hands.
It was an event Mayor Greg Fischer called “the city’s significant and most important.”
“This is a deeply intimate expression of a common heart,” the mayor said, which is much needed, especially during election season.
And for Brenda McWaters, a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Assumption attending the Festival of Faiths for the first time, it was a sign of hope.
“I hope it repairs our world,” she said. “It’s certainly repairing my heart.”