Student representatives from the world’s religions met in UCD’s St Stephen’s Chaplaincy last month to unite UCD’s various faithful communities as part of International Week.
Chaplain Fr Leon Ó Giolláin, who organised the event, said “I knew that very many religions [are] represented on campus. I felt it was important to reach out to these religions, and to gather as a group to hear the richness of each of their experiences and their tradition.”
Fr Ó Giolláin added that “the world is getting smaller [and] it is very important we build a united world. If the great religions of the world don’t start by doing that as a sign of its possibility, then we risk never doing it at all.”
During the evening EVENT, which was also attended by Vice-President for Students Dr Martin Butler, individuals were asked to share a summary of the essence of their faith.
Fr Ó Giolláin listed the diversity of representatives in attendance. He told The University Observer that “there were Catholics certainly, there were people from other Christian traditions. We had Muslims, we had Hindus, we had Buddhists represented. We had Bahá’ís, and we had an Agnostic who spoke very eloquently.”
After representatives had presented their perspective, time was dedicated to questions and answers, where many sought to draw parallels between the different traditions.
Fr Ó Giolláin expressed how pleased he was with the meeting, calling it “fantastic” and expressing his happiness at the level of turnout.
After the presentations, participants chatted informally, and many explained how satisfied they were by the event. One student said he had found the event “very interesting for me… it shows that’s there’s freedom of religion in this world as many people have different views and they are practising it in their own ways.” The student added their reaffirmation that “all the religions in this world are more towards doing good to the people.”
Similar sentiments were conveyed by another student who attended the event, who said he felt that “it was really good to see people from different faiths talking to each other and trying to understand each other.” He added that he “did learn quite a lot and I really think the way forward [is] to understand each other.”
The meeting was attended by two of UCD’s five Bahá’í students, one of whom stated that “I think there was [a] great spirit of connection between people of different faiths. It was really interesting to see things side by side and everybody is looking to make connections,” and that “it was really a feeling of connection.”