Ursuline News

Engaging in Interreligious Dialogue

The Theology class, Ecumenical and Interreligious Issues, is a senior course designed to acquaint students with different major world religions and various Christian faith traditions.  

The course teacher, Ms. Beth Mersino, hopes that the class ultimately provides students the ability to engage in “interreligious dialogue” by creating a space for encounter and healthy curiosity about the other. 

Recently, students in the class participated in an engaging virtual conversation with three Jewish students through the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Jewish Community Relations Council. This opportunity provided for an interfaith peer-to-peer program where Ursuline students learned more about the Jewish faith.  

“The class discussion was a great experience,” said Kayleigh Currier ‘21. “It was interesting to hear from the Jewish students and our class learned a lot about the religion including common traditions and their favorite part about being Jewish.”  

Another witness experience took place with Ursuline Arabic teacher Camelia Benhayda. She shared her lived Muslim faith with Ms. Mersino’s class as well as with her Arabic students.  

"I wanted to show how Islam is so similar to Christianity," Ms. Benhayda said. "Jesus is also important in Islam and is about peace between people and nations." 

Throughout the semester, students explored the five major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, various forms of Christianity beyond Catholicism, and Islam. 

Individually, they also each researched one of 20 minor religions. They then presented those in small groups. Students, therefore, were able to learn about three to four other minor religions, such as the following, just to name a few: 

  • Tenrikyo 
  • Sikhism 
  • Jainism 
  • Shinto 
  • Taoism 
  • Messianic Judaism 
  • Jehovah’s Witness 
  • Rastafarianism 
  • Unitarianism 
  • Candomblé 

“My hope is that these experiences will better equip the seniors to meet students of other faith traditions on their college campuses,” said Ms. Mersino. “This will thus help them break through preconceived ideas and build bridges."