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Marymount Fosters Unity at Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Leaders representing different religions bring the community together for prayers and blessings

Marymount of Santa Barbara did far more than deliver on its theme of “Going Global, Acting Local” at an interfaith Thanksgiving service Nov. 24 in Battistone Hall.

Opening with a quote from Hans Kung that no peace can exist between religions until a dialogue exists between religions, Deborah David, head of Marymount, introduced three religious community leaders from three religions. Family, friends, students and staff experienced a service where all three religious representatives delivered prayers and blessings in their native languages with English translations.

High school student Omar Khan started the service with a call to prayer in Arabic. Sister Afaf Turjoman of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara, Mark Childs of Jewish cantor at B’nai B’rith Temple and the Rev. Tom Elewaut, a Catholic priest, Marymount board member and principal of Bishop Garcia Diego High School, addressed the congregation. All spoke of the importance of giving thanks, the importance of family, the importance of peace and more that are vital and yet all too easy to take for granted in our modern, rushed and distracted lives.

The service was right in line with Marymount of Santa Barbara’s theme for the year of “Going Global, Acting Local.” It also echoed the Kaleidoscope religious studies program taught at Marymount, a curriculum created uniquely for Marymount by UCSB’s Department of Religious Studies.

The Kaleidoscope program explores world religions in different contexts — cultural, historic, economic, literary and sociological — and helps pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students build character while becoming more sophisticated thinkers with a more profound, informed understanding of themselves, human nature and the world at large.

Music performed by the fourth- and fifth-grade students and Childs on his acoustic guitar rang the hall rafters. The Lord’s Prayer was recited by Marymount students and families in 10 languages.

Those gathered in Marymount’s Battistone Hall ranged in age from Marymount’s junior kindergartners to grandparents, but during the fast-moving service, differences in age, religions and background seemed insignificant compared with the feeling of community, thankfulness and acceptance.

This year’s interfaith Thanksgiving service was Marymount’s third consecutive.

— Hilary Doubleday is a Marymount of Santa Barbara parent.

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