On November 5th 2020, about 15 young female Catholic students participated in a full one day Interreligious Dialogue (IRD) training session; it’s mission was to improve the participants interreligious communication skills and to make dialogue more effective among the female students in Bangladesh. This project was funded by the Russell Berrie Fellowship Alumni Grant Program as a semi-annual 3-year training program for female students that ran from 2018 -2020. This was the 6th and final session. The IRD training was organized mainly by Sr. Purobi Pascalina Chiran, RNDM supported by her religious Sisters, Mary Alo Palma, vice provincial, Shiuly C. Gomes, Sonya A. Rosario, Shathi Florence Costa and Rina C. Costa.
The session offers many opportunities for reflection. Sr. Pascalina describes the program as follows: “In the morning after a short meaningful prayer we, the RNDM Sisters, offered classes on interfaith action and intercultural dialogue. In the afternoon session we had practical workshops on the study of the Council Declaration Nostra Aetate, Iceberg theory, we discussed other religions having their own sacred stories, challenges and questions for reflections, sharing and thanksgiving prayer service.”
Bangladesh, like all other countries, is dealing with Covid-19 restrictions. “Due to Covid-19 many of the students who moved from Dhaka to their native village could not attend the IRD training,” Sr. Pascalina comments. However, “IRD training program was well appreciated by the students who could attend.”
“I started offering IRD training for female students twice a year from January 2018 until now and it has been a wonderful experience indeed. I have learned so much from it though it has been sometimes difficult to organize and to keep in communication with the girls,” says Sr. Pascalina, reflecting on this experience.
“I am a proud alumna of the John Paul II Center for Interreligious dialogue. So I long to make a difference. My priority is to be present to and work with all creation, religions, cultures, genders and people. I wish to collaborate with other prophetic voices in responding to our current global crisis by offering training to our female students for the future. This is just my little effort,” she concludes.
We are very proud of Sr. Pascalina and her work increasing the capacity of young women in Bangladesh to have effective interreligious communication and understanding.