College Has Faith In Its Unity Effort

March 22, 2009

Author: Connie Paige

Source: The Boston Globe

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/22/college_has_faith_in_its_unity_effort/

An elderly Jewish woman who had fled Hungary during the Holocaust was taking courses at Merrimack College a couple of years ago when she encountered Padraic O'Hare, executive director of the campus Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations.

The woman told him, "You've made this college campus a safe place for us, a place where we feel welcome," O'Hare recounted recently, referring to his interfaith work at the center.

Now, the center has expanded its mission to include a new focus on Islam, and O'Hare is hoping Muslims at Merrimack College will have a similar reaction. "I want to hear the same from a Muslim brother or sister within the foreseeable future," he said.

The newly renamed Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations aims to mend misunderstandings among Jews, Christians, and Muslims by offering programs concerning interfaith relations for students and residents of the area.

As part of its mission, the reconfigured center, added to the small North Andover Catholic college last October, hopes to reach out to the estimated 10,000 Muslims living in the Merrimack Valley.