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Seton Hall University

Inside the Core

 Rev./Dr. Forrest Pritchett

Rev./Dr. Forrest Pritchett

Inside the Core, this past Sunday, January 21, several of us connected with the Core had the privilege to participate in the Archdiocese of Newark’s Day of Prayer for Christian Unity, held at St. Helen’s Church in Westfield, NJ. Dr. Anthony Sciglitano, former Director of the Core and current faculty member of the Religion Department who teaches in the Core regularly; Dr. Peter Ahr, Professor Emeritus and one of the founding faculty of the Core; myself, the current Core Director and Professor of English, participated in the ceremony as we are all members of the jointly meeting Archdiocesan Commissions on Inter-religious Dialogue and on Ecumenism. Also attending were other members of the Commissions from Seton Hall, Msgr. John Radano of Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and Fr. Lawrence Frizzell, Chair of Jewish Christian Studies; Fr. Phil Latronico, head of both commissions, and Fr. Luke Edelman, head of the Ecumenical Commission, and Fr. Eugene Field were attending as well and key figures in planning the event.

Most significant for us at Seton Hall and the Core, the main speaker was Rev./Dr. Forrest Pritchett, Director of the MLK Leadership Institute and Senior Advisor to the Provost on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as a faithful and long-standing faculty member in the Core, as well as a member of the Core Advisory Board. His sermon on the enormous need for Christians of all denominations to stand together in faith against current tides of racism, white supremacy, hate, and violence. His talk was deeply inspiring, and I think everyone there felt moved and challenged to work together more consistently and tirelessly, enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Members of other Christian communities also participated in the event.

Our own Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark presided over the ceremony. Seton Hall is blessed to have Cardinal Tobin, an important spiritual leader in the areas of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, supporting this kind of event by his presence and his words of encouragement and support for this work. In a world that is too often rejecting of others who look or talk or even think differently from ourselves, it is more important than ever to engage in efforts like this one that support dialogue and collaboration in the name of the Lord. We are grateful to Cardinal Tobin for his presence.

The theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2024 was “You shall love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27), selected by the Roman Catholic Pontifical Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, the World Council of Churches, and specifically the Christian Churches in Burkina Faso. Symbolic of the importance of water in its role as a purifying agent and life-giving force, a kalabash (vessel for holding water used in Burkina Faso) was on the table as attendees entered the church, where all were given a cup of water to drink. It was then carried into the church and placed on the altar. The water was also a reminder that many people, in African countries specifically, are often living in conditions where clean water is in short supply. The drinking of water symbolically linked participants in solidarity with those who lack this precious gift of water.

As Director of the Core, I was honored to be part of this ceremony as it embodied the kind of respectful and inspired interaction among believers from differing perspectives of faith that is at the heart of what we do in the Core.

Categories: Faith and Service