YOUNGSTOWN 'Faith fair' to allow sharing of beliefs

The speaker will discuss the future of religion after the Sept. 11 attacks.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A new "faith fair" will provide information about religions as part of an ongoing local effort to promote good will between them.
The need for greater knowledge was demonstrated in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks as people tried to separate the declaration of a holy war by terrorists from Islam's peaceful beliefs.
The Mahoning Valley's Multifaith Day Committee will offer the fair for the first time during this year's event.
Faiths will have booths to present information on their beliefs and their teachings on the day's theme: "Faith in the Face of Crisis: Religion After Sept. 11."
What was happening: The attacks came at a time when ecumenical and interfaith efforts were reaching new understandings and attempting to heal long-standing rifts.
Locally, the multifaith day's roots go back at least 30 years. The event traditionally included small groups discussing a topic, and then reporting to all those in attendance. That will be replaced by the fair.
Each year, a different faith or denomination is host of the event. This year the event is sponsored by Catholics. Nancy Yuhasz, the chancellor for the Catholic Diocese, said Elsie Dursi, the executive director of the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches, came up with the idea of the fair.
"Let's learn about each other's religion," Yuhasz said.
Eight to 10 faiths are expected to have booths. The Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Bah & aacute;' & iacute; faiths are on the day's planning committee.
The Catholic booth will include information on the church as well as brochures on the Catholic response to terrorism.
For example, the brochure says anger is an appropriate response to tragedy when it motivates people to work for justice and help victims. The brochure also points out innocent people cannot be held responsible just because they have the same religion, nationality or ethnic origin that terrorists have.
Speaker: The speaker will be Dr. Robert L. VanDale, director of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Center at Westminster College. He's been active in ecumenical and interfaith dialogues nationally and internationally.
He's worked at Westminster since 1972. During a sabbatical in 1997-98, he conducted taped interviews with 100 peacemakers throughout the United States.
The event will also include a talk about the faith that is host of the event. Monsignor Robert J. Siffrin, the diocesan vicar general, will give the talk.
The event is from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 7 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
The cost is $10, which includes lunch. Reservations should be made by Monday. Checks should be made payable to the Diocese of Youngstown, and sent to Yuhasz at the diocese, 144 W. Wood St., Youngstown 44503. People should indicate if they are attending the morning session, the luncheon or both.
For more information, call Yuhasz at (330) 744-8451 or Bonnie Deutsch Burdman at (330) 746-3251.

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