PM has helped Christian-Muslim dialogue in nation’s capital

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Letter to the Editor

Prairie Messenger

27 November 2002

The Editor: You may know that I have been a subscriber for several years and as well an occasional “benefactor” as evidenced by your recent listing of donors. My brother, Jean-Paul Isabelle, OMI, gave us a subscription years ago as a Christmas gift and I have been an addicted reader of your excellent paper ever since.

The very first thing I do after reading your paper is to pass it on to a very close friend, L’abb* Jacques Faucher, who was and is on a very modest income as a parish priest in Ottawa but now re-assigned to an ecumenical role in the diocese.

However, I have had two wonderful experience with your paper that you might find interesting. The first occurred following publication of several excellent articles on the Shoah some time ago which led me to request copies of your paper which I then gave to my colleagues, members of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue.

The second following publication of several excellent articles dealing with Jewish-Palestinian issues following the Sept. 11, 2001, “incidents” in the United States and the subsequent events such as the war in Afghanistan which led me to lend (because I wish to give them to my friend Jacques later) several issues to my colleagues who are in this case members of the Christian-Muslim Dialogue.

The commentaries I have heard from my colleagues in both dialogue groups have all been most laudatory and I had hoped that perhaps some of them might eventually become subscribers and/or donors, however I am not sure this had happened.

This year 2002 was quite special for these two dialogue groups, who have been on parallel tracks since their founding even though I had shared with them my feeling that we should be talking to each other, because three trialogues did take place: one in (early spring) a meeting hall of the United Church, one in (August) a meeting hall of a synagogue, and the third in October in a meeting hall of a mosque.

They were very successful meetings; the atmosphere during the first gathering was cautious, the second was much easier and the third was truly wonderful and it led to a unanimous decision to hold trialogues in 2003, and perhaps beyond.

I dare to think that the articles in the Prairie Messenger may have contributed to what I call the removal of the parallel tracks! There are now two C-M groups in Ottawa, and still only one C-J dialogue group and all continue to have monthly meetings although all three are committed to planning and holding trialogues.

I intend to share this letter with the chairpersons of the C-J and C-M dialogue groups. In the meantime congratulations. Several of “us” believe you are doing an excellent job. — Laurent Isabelle, Ottawa

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