Dear Members of the McQuaid Jesuit Community:
As a Catholic, Jesuit school, we believe God is to be found “in all things,” and so we give thanks for all experiences of God, including those different from ours. This morning, as a school community, we found God in and through the experiences of our brother Knights and Brighton neighbors of different faiths and religious backgrounds during our annual Thanksgiving Inter-Faith Prayer Service.
It was wonderful hearing sophomore Benjamin Fargnoli share his reflection on practicing the Baha’i faith, as were the words junior Gagan Timsina shared in his practice of Hinduism. And we were honored and pleased to welcome Rabbi Peter Stein who served as presider of our service. Rabbi Stein is the senior Rabbi of Temple B’rith Kodesh, with whom we are neighbors on Elmwood Avenue. It was a blest opportunity in which to experience and give thanks to the God among and within every single one of us.
The 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (1995) encouraged us in this morning’s pursuit. The decree entitled, “Our Mission and Inter-Religious Dialogue” invites Jesuits and apostolates like McQuaid, to “be alert to the global quest for the Divine, enriched by the spiritual experiences and ethical values, theological perspectives and symbolic expressions of other religions.” And continuing the prophetic work of the Second Vatican Council, Saint John Paul II reminded us that, “Inter-Faith dialogue at its deepest level seeks to discover, clarify, and understand better the signs of the dialogue which God maintains with humanity.” Therefore, by engaging the diverse experiences of others, we became even more deeply engaged in our Catholic faith, and more aligned with our Jesuit heritage, for which we are truly blest and very grateful.
As we continue in this Thanksgiving time, our students and neighbors help us “find God in all things.” In his reflection, Rabbi Stein invited us to join our Jewish brothers and sisters in their simple practice of searching for “100 blessings” every day. He indicated that among Jewish religious practice, there are official blessings for food, drink, and other things that are enjoyed. However, he also stated that although Jewish prayer books contain a number of official blessings, they do not have 100. Therefore, he challenged us to look for additional ones, in and through the people we meet, the gifts we share, and the blessings we have in our daily lives.
The wonderful thing about Thanksgiving is that family and friends will soon gather together from places near and far. Homes will be open, food will be blessed and stories will be shared. As Saint Ignatius reminds us in the Spiritual Exercises, “All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.” What an opportunity we have in the next few days to count as many blessings as we can!
Shalom. Shanti. Salām. Peace.
Rev. Robert E. Reiser, S.J.
Fr. Reiser assumed the presidency of McQuaid Jesuit July 1, 2014, becoming the school’s 13th president. A native of Buffalo, Fr. Reiser attended Canisius High School and earned his bachelor of science in Accounting from Canisius College. Following his undergraduate studies, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1986. Along with teaching, Fr. Reiser has served many roles throughout his career, including director of Campus Ministry at Canisius High School, director of Vocations for the Society of Jesus in New York City, and president of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City.