In March 2023, a group of 45 participants consisting of Muslim and Christian clergy, leaders, and youth gathered in Obudu, in southeastern Nigeria, for a seminar around interreligious dialogue and understanding. With the support of a JPII Leader Grant, Fr. Humphrey Udechukwu (Cohort XIV, Nigeria) organized this two-day seminar aimed at educating local leaders of Muslim and Christian communities “on the need to promote peaceful co-existence among adherents.”
Fr. Humphrey, a Catholic priest in Nigeria, was interested in focusing on interreligious dialogue in light of a key tenet expressed in both Islam and Christianity: love of neighbor. The resulting seminar, which came together with collaboration from the Christian Association of Nigeria and the local Muslim community, sought to address religious intolerance and violence in Nigeria.
In organizing the event, Fr. Humphrey faced hesitance from both Christian and Muslim communities, some of whom were wary of engaging in such a dialogue. However, by the end of the program, Fr. Humphrey notes, both the Christian and Muslim participants “were all edified and appreciated our common heritage in God. They now have a positive approach to one another.”
Fr. Humphrey also notes that, since the project, the Imam of the local mosque has visited his parish twice. “This was conceived as a taboo before the execution of the project,” he explains, “I hope that this new understanding will foster growth and peaceful co-existence among both adherents.”