ALLEGANY, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University president Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, will be honored this week for her efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and environments, including the establishment of SBU’s multicultural Damietta Center.
The National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC) of Western New York, formerly the National Conference of Community and Justice of Western New York, will honor three organizations and 38 individuals for their service to others in the Buffalo area during its 2007 Community Leaders Awards Luncheon on Jan. 18 in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Opened in September 2006, the Damietta Center celebrates the diversity of the university’s students, faculty, staff and administrators and provides cultural, intellectual and spiritual enrichment. Available programs, services and facilities will enhance and create a community environment that recognizes the university’s desire to appreciate cultural similarities and differences while cultivating a campus-wide environment for cross-cultural interaction.
“Sr. Margaret is so deserving of the NFJC Community Leader Interfaith Award,” said Lana Benatovich, executive director of the federation. “She exemplifies everything that we stand for as an organization and is a true role model for both adults and children. Sr. Margaret reaches out to people of all faiths in a compassionate and inclusive way. Her Franciscan heart is so much a part of her work and her life.”
Sr. Margaret has a long history of embracing interfaith issues. She attended the first World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986. The inspiration of seeing the leaders of the world’s religions stand in spiritual solidarity has marked her life as a Franciscan scholar and leader.
Prior to that event, she worked closely with the late Fr.Thaddeus Horgan, a Franciscan friar who served in the principal library and ecumenical center of Rome during the meetings of the Second Vatican Council. The relationship with Fr. Thaddeus and the sisters and friars of the Atonement also formed her convictions about Franciscan approaches to Christian Unity.
Twice in the last five years, she has been invited to address a gathering of Franciscans of Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches.
Sr. Margaret’s experience as a student in Italy led her to friendship with Don Aldo Brunacci, a priest of the Diocese of Assisi who assisted in the rescue of more than 200 Jewish refugees during World War II. Sr. Margaret brought Don Aldo to the campus of St. Bonaventure on two occasions, promoting opportunities for Christian-Jewish dialogue about the Holocaust. This month the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts of St. Bonaventure University is preparing an exhibition of Don Aldo’s story that will be shared with the national Holocaust Museum of Washington, D.C.
As part of her inaugural address in 2004, Sr. Margaret urged the university to strive for inter-religious literacy as a hallmark of its students’ success. She believes that competent world citizens must be conversant with the principal beliefs of the world’s religious creeds, an important element of work for peace and the cessation of hostilities that impact the world.