Muslim and Jewish Students Win Advanced Degrees from Catholic Union

May 14, 2008

Author: Manya A. Brachear

Source: Chicago Tribune,0,439350.story

As a teen, Sarah Bier traveled from Chicago to Israel to learn more about Judaism. But her journey to the Holy Land, marred by religious violence from beginning to end, ultimately led her to explore other faiths as well.

Syafa Almirzanah chose to pursue similar studies after growing tensions among Muslims in her native Indonesia began to threaten formerly healthy relationships with the Christian and Jewish minority there.

On Thursday, Bier and Almirzanah will become the first Jewish woman and the first Muslim woman to receive advanced degrees from Catholic Theological Union—a sign of how the graduate seminary has expanded its mission to foster a peaceful co-existence of religious traditions around the world.

Seminary leaders say both women offer hope in a troubling era when religious alliances have become strained and religious tensions have erupted in violence.