As a part of the “Jubilee Year of Mercy” called for by Pope Francis, the program “The Face of God: Mercy in the Islamic, Jewish and Christian Traditions” will be held at Wednesday, April 6, 7 p.m. in the 3M Auditorium of Owens Science Hall on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf

Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf

The program, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the university’s Office for Mission, the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning and the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center. The Jay Phillips Center is a joint enterprise of St. Thomas and Saint John’s University, Collegeville.

Brief presentations will be made by Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf, Rabbi Amy Eilberg and Father Michael Joncas. A discussion among the panelists and with members of the audience will follow.

This past Dec. 8, Pope Francis inaugurated what he declared to be the “Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy,” saying that “the celebration of this feast involves … fully accepting God and his merciful grace in our lives” and “becoming, in turn, artisans of mercy.”

As Pope Francis has frequently urged Catholics to engage in interfaith dialogue and learning, this program will focus on the meaning and practice of mercy as found not only in the Christian tradition but in the Islamic and Jewish traditions as well.

Father Michael Joncas

Father Michael Joncas

El-Sawaf is the founding director of the Al-Wafaa Center for Human Services in Minneapolis, a psychotherapist actively involved in the Minnesota Council of Churches Healing Resources for Refugees initiative, and an imam at Masjid Al-Iman Mosque in northeast Minneapolis.

Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Eilberg, who in 1985 became the first woman ordained in Judaism’s Conservative Movement, directs interfaith programs sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center, teaches at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and St. Catherine University, and is the author of From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace (Orbis Books, 2014).

Joncas, a liturgical theologian and composer of Catholic music, taught for many years in St. Thomas’ Theology Department; he now is artist-in-residence and fellow at the Center for Catholic Studies.

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