Thanksgiving prayer service celebrates multiple faiths

After the success of the event last year, BSM will be hosting its second Thanksgiving Interfaith Prayer Service on Tuesday, November 26, led by people of several faiths, including Fr. Tim Wozniak, BSM chaplain, Rabbi Avi Olitzky, Beth El Synagogue, Rev. Elaine Barber, Episcopalian priest and BSM substitute teacher, as well as several BSM students.

BSM instituted the event based on the teachings of the Catholic Church and Vatican II, which encourages services [that celebrate different faiths], especially at Thanksgiving. “Ecumenical and Interreligious prayer is encouraged as a means of unifying all of God’s people, while at the same time respecting the unique beliefs and unique ways of praying. The Church tells us that Thanksgiving is the ideal time for this type of prayer because it is not a Catholic feast day,” BSM Faith Formation Department Chair, Ms. Holly Hoey Germann said.

This service is meant to be popular among the whole student body as it seeks to include all BSM students. “BSM has many non-Catholics and several non-Christians. An Interfaith Prayer service is one way to fully include those community members,” Ms. Hoey Germann said.

I think Interfaith [prayer] is important because we are all different but are connected through one God.

— Ben Grogan

Interreligious prayer can also be a unifying agent in a seemingly divisive society. “We live in a pluralistic society, and prayer can be a unifying agent regardless of our faith. If we can empower the young people at BSM to respectfully pray with a variety of people, we will be giving them a powerful tool of peace and unity,” Ms. Hoey Germann said.

Junior Ben Grogan, one of the student-leaders in the prayer service, agrees. “I think Interfaith [prayer] is important because we are all different but are connected through one God. We need to be able to work and communicate with all people no matter their beliefs. It’s important for us to know and respect other people’s beliefs,” he said.

With BSM being committed to service through its service-learning identity, BSM students oftentimes serve people in the community of other faiths, such as RKVC members serving at Shalom Home, a Jewish nursing home in St. Louis Park. Interfaith prayer services can serve to form stronger bonds with the people being served. “It is beautiful to serve others, but it is beautiful and profound to pray with others,” Ms. Hoey Germann said.