Niagara University introduced a three-part series, “Walking a Common Path: Bridging Religious Difference in the Labyrinth” on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2019, during its celebration of Vincentian Heritage Week.
The purpose of the series is to explore the differences and similarities between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in three areas— practice, prayer, and pilgrimage. Speakers for the first in the series, practice, were Kristina Daloia, director of campus ministry at Niagara University; Theodore Steinberg, distinguished teaching professor emeritus at SUNY Fredonia; and Dr. Mustafa Gokcek, associate professor of history at NU.
Daloia spoke about the practice of Christianity, which she divided into communal, personal, and life practice. “I feel closest to God when the three categories are balanced,” she said. Gokcek gave a summary of his personal practice of Islam, and Steinberg, who has authored publications in the area of Jewish studies, shared the practices of his faith.
Following their presentations, Mitchell Alegre, EAGLE coordinator and adjunct professor in NU’s College of Business Administration, explained how walking the labyrinth can provide an experience of the intertwining of individuals in creating community.
The labyrinth, which is essentially a mazelike path, comes in many forms and shapes. The path guides you to the center, and is used as a metaphorical, meditative tool for those who practice any type of religion. When you walk the path, you don’t have to think about making choices about where the path will lead; rather, it takes you to one place along your journey of practice. It can have many different intentions and meanings, but the main idea is that “we’re all on the same path despite our differences, and this is how it relates to bridging religious practice,” explained Alegre.
The next two parts of the series, prayer and pilgrimage, will take place on Oct. 9 and Nov. 13 from 12:15 to 1:50 p.m. in the Gallagher Center Multi-Purpose Room.