Sisters and attendees of the Mother Mary in Catholicism and Islam Sharing Event take a group photo in the Chapel. 

by Sister Mary McHale

On Sunday afternoon, November 11, 2018, about 100 people – Muslims, Catholics and people of other Christian denominations – gathered in Villa de Matel Chapel for a sharing on Mother Mary in Catholicism and Islam. The gathering was in the planning for several months. It was organized by members of the Dialogue Institute Southwest, namely Fatih Ozcan and Sophia Saliha Bektas and by Jeannette Easley and Sister Mary McHale of Ruah staff. As we talked and planned together, it became clear that Mother Mary was the visible connecting presence calling us together to share what unites us as people of different religious traditions on our journey to God.

The gathering began with a short tour of the Villa Chapel with an emphasis on the central place of Mary in our faith. Sibel Yuksel and Sister Rose Scanlan gave two beautiful sharings on the role of Mary in both traditions. Their simplicity and devotion to Mary spoke very profoundly to all present. At the end of her presentation, Sibel looked at us all and said: “I love Mary.” You could see the love exuding through her, a young mother of a well-loved son! Sister Rose gave a beautiful reflection of Mary in the New Testament; again it was her love and devotion to Mother Mary that touched people.

Following the presentations, Liana Merrill sang the Ave Maria accompanied by Sister Symphonie Giao-Huong Ngoc Ngo on piano. Then we had a reading from the Quran in Arabic by Ibrahim Tanis on the Annunciation to Mary. It was a profound experience hearing it read from the podium in the Villa Chapel. God and Mary were surely smiling down on us! Further insights were shared on the connections of the use of prayer beads, the rosary beads, and the tradition of praying the Angelus. We ended by praying the Hail Mary together and singing the Magnificat.

We then went to the dining room where all greatly enjoyed refreshments prepared by a group of Muslim women and Villa dietary staff. We sat together and shared our experience of the gathering. One woman said as she was leaving “Mary is the one who can unite us all.” She did for a few hours that Sunday afternoon; doors began to open in our minds and hearts, and as we looked into the eyes of each other, we saw our brothers and sisters there.

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