'Planting Seeds Of Hope': Grassroots Initiatives on Creating a Culture of Dialogue

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'Planting Seeds Of Hope': Grassroots Initiatives on Creating a Culture of Dialogue

The Lay Centre is pleased to announce an extraordinary public event early in the New Year that will gather a remarkable group of international Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars for a colloquium on advancing interreligious dialogue from the grassroots.

On Feb. 20, Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, MAfr, Dr. Sharon Rosen, and Dr. Nayla Tabbara will be at The Lay Centre to discuss the topic, “Planting Seeds of Hope: Grassroots Initiatives on Creating a Culture of Dialogue.” The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Seàn-Patrick Lovett.

One year after the publication of the document, “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, The Lay Centre would like to explore what more can be done on a grassroots level to facilitate greater fraternity among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The roundtable will be followed by Vespers, celebrated by Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and a member of The Lay Centre Board of Directors. A reception will follow, which will include the launch of the book, “Full, Conscious, and Active: Lay Participation in the Church’s Dialogue with the World,” edited by Donna Orsuto and Robert White. The book, with the preface by Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap, of Boston includes the acts of an Academic Conference co-sponsored by The Lay Centre and the College Theology Society, held at The Lay Centre July 6-9, 2016. This book is in honor of two deceased friends of The Lay Centre, Ralph and Mary Dwan.

Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, based in Liverpool, England, is a leading expert on Islam, Christian-Muslim relations and interreligious dialogue among the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Fitzgerald served as the apostolic nuncio to Egypt and delegate to the Arab League, from 2006 to 2012, after serving as the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for four years. He had served the same council as secretary since 1987. Born in England, he entered the novitiate of the Missionaries of Africa in 1956, and was ordained a priest in 1961. He spent most of the years that followed between Rome and the African continent, studying, teaching and doing pastoral work. During his years in Rome, he also served as rector of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies and on the General Council of his order. He was created a cardinal this past October.

Dr. Sharon Rosen, based in Jerusalem, is the global director of religious engagement at Search for Common Ground, the world’s leading non-governmental organization dedicated to peacemaking, with a staff of 700 in 57 offices and a reach of more than 4 million. Dr. Rosen provides strategic oversight and technical expertise on religious engagement projects and is the lead curriculum developer of a Common Ground Approach strategy on the subject. She also leads the organization’s Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites initiative for the protection of sacred spaces and directs a Jewish-Muslim religious leaders’ initiative to expand constituencies for peace in Israel.

Dr. Nayla Tabbara, based in Beirut, is a Muslim theologian, the director of the Institute of Citizenship and Diversity Management at Adyan Foundation, and founding member of Adyan, Foundation for Diversity, Solidarity and Human Dignity. She is a university professor in religious and Islamic studies and develops curricula in multi-faith education. She has several books and publications in the fields of Islamic theology of other religions, Islamic feminism, education on interreligious and intercultural diversity, Quranic exegesis, and Sufism. She received three awards for “L’islam pensé par une femme” (“A woman’s interpretation of Islam”), published in 2018.

Dr. Seàn-Patrick Lovett, based in Rome, heads the English section of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See. Together, with his previous position as the head of the English Department of Vatican Radio, he has served in Vatican communications for more than 40 years. He is also a professor of Media and Management at the Pontifical Gregorian University for more than 30 years. As vice president of the Lyon-based Centre for Research and Education in Communication, he provides professional media training workshops in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

For more information or to register, email or go to

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