By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
A crowd of about 400 people gathered for the Center for Interfaith Relations’ annual Festival of Faiths interfaith prayer service May 13 at the Cathedral of the Assumption. The event marked the beginning of a week-long celebration of the diverse faith traditions in the Louisville area.
Tuesday’s “Interfaith Service: A Call to Prayer” centered on sacred music — what the festival organizers called a universal language. Representatives of seven faith communities presented a sampling of their own calls to prayer during the evening service.
Before they began, though, Father Jeffrey Nicolas, the Cathedral’s pastor, welcomed visitors to the Cathedral and told them, “I am sacred and you are, too.”
He repeated the message throughout the evening as he welcomed each faith community to share their prayers. His message reflected the theme of this year’s festival — “Sacred Earth Sacred Self.”
“All religions in some way acknowledge the sacredness of God’s creation,” he said during his welcoming address.
He also noted that most faith traditions call believers to pray for one another. Then he asked the crowd to pray in particular for the Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by a terrorist group.
Father Nicolas noted that in the Catholic tradition, “We pray for all other religions.”
“We even pray for those who don’t believe in God,” he said. “We pray for all people because all people are sacred in God’s eyes. It’s really kind of simple. Our sacredness comes not from what we do, but from who we are. We are God’s own.”
“Each of our faiths has it’s own unique call to prayer,” he added. “The great alleluia is the Christian call to prayer.”
The Cathedral of the Assumption provided a trio of singers who opened the “call to prayer” portion of the service with a chant of alleluia. Another Christian group, the West Louisville Boys and Girls Choirs, provided the prelude music.
The service also included calls to prayer from Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Native American, Baha’i and Hindu traditions.
The Hindu presentation featured a sacred dance performed by young students from Akila Iyer.
They held the rapt attention of the congregants, many of whom stood in the aisles of the Cathedral to get a better look at the dance.
The festival continues through May 18. The theme for programs offered May 15, is “Nurturing the Spiritual and Physical Through Food and Farming.”
The theme for the May 16 program is “Re-imagining the Earth-Self Relationship.” May 17 will focus on “Awakening the Dreamer.” And May 18 will focus on “Earth and Self, a Call to Action.”
A complete schedule is available at centerforinterfaithrelations.org.