On January 29, McGill Interfaith Day invited participants to attend a variety of religious services and events on and off campus. The series of events was hosted by the McGill Interfaith Student Council (MISC), based out of the McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL), and in conjunction with Ghetto Shul, the Muslim Students’ Association, the Sikh Students’ Association, the Thaqalayan Muslim Students’ Association, and the Newman Centre.
Speaking to The Daily, Kripa Koshy, a member of MISC, said that interfaith events help foster dialogue between the McGill community and different faith groups, as well as dialogue between the faith groups themselves.
“Our diverse team of faith representatives often uses the resources their respective groups have to facilitate one event specifically aimed at demystifying their faith to those outside of the faith tradition.”
A Jumu’ah prayer, a Catholic mass, a Sikh meditation, Shabbat services, and a roundtable discussion were all a part of the day’s events.
According to Koshy, “Our diverse team of faith representatives often uses the resources their respective groups have to facilitate one event specifically aimed at demystifying their faith to those outside of the faith tradition.” Each student-led, on-campus organization hosted an event representative of a feature of their faith, and all of these groups joined the roundtable discussion.
Koshy went on to emphasize how the roundtable discussion spoke to the purpose of Interfaith Day. “Rather than engaging in complex religious rhetoric, [it was] an informal chat where students of faith [discussed] the challenges they encounter while fulfilling their study objectives and faith commitments,” said Koshy. “Exploring these spaces allows me to better understand my neighbour, and thus offer better support to religious minorities and communities in our multicultural society.”
Phoebe Warren, a U2 Political Science and History student, told The Daily that she heard of Interfaith Day through her involvement with the Unitarian Church of Montreal.
“Exploring these spaces allows me to better understand my neighbour, and thus offer better support to religious minorities and communities in our multicultural society.”
Speaking about the Shabbat services hosted by Ghetto Shul, Warren said, “It was wonderful. Our individual beliefs weren’t particularly important during the religious part of the evening, and we were able to focus on enjoying the practices and rituals for what they are and how they compare to our own.”
The services were followed by a community dinner. Warren recalled a conversation she had that night, saying, “I was able to engage in a discussion […] no holds barred, about our beliefs, why we believe them, and how it impacts our worldview.”
In an interview with The Daily, Cassie Frankel, a U3 Political Science student involved in Ghetto Shul, spoke about the same event, saying, “It gave the anthropological opportunity to observe different religious prayer customs while also providing a social forum to meet other interested students of faith in a more low-key setting.”
“I was able to engage in a discussion […] no holds barred, about our beliefs, why we believe them, and how it impacts our worldview.”
“I also really enjoyed the opportunity to bring my own friends along to something so important to me, that is such a regular yet not necessarily understood part of my life at McGill,” Frankel added.
Koshy also attended the Shabbat services, and, regarding the Torah passage shared during the services, said, “[It] really resonated with me, as it narrated a story of how new perspectives can add great value to existing traditions and can in fact help strengthen communities.”
Speaking more broadly about Interfaith Day, Koshy said, “What I found most noteworthy was how beautifully the diverse faith groups worked together to connect their communities and offer a warm welcome to friends and strangers alike.”