On Sunday, February 25, twenty five Loyola Academy World Religion students visited the Buddhist Temple of Chicago in the Uptown neighborhood. The featured speaker at the temple’s service was Susan M. Pudelek, coordinator of interreligious relations in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
“True to the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, it is hoped that through an experience of prayer and community with another religious tradition that students develop a deeper understanding of that religion and an ability to see similarities and respect differences,” explains Theology Teacher and Senior Gesu Coordinator Mr. Christopher Howe. “What added to this experience, in particular, was the speaker whose expertise in both religious traditions helped make these connections.”
Ms. Pudelek in an active participate in the Parliament of the World’s Religions and she was the Archdiocesan representative to the Vatican for its Buddhist-Catholic interreligious dialogue under the direction of Pope Francis.
“I thought that my prayer experience at the Chicago Buddhist Temple was extremely enlightening,” says world religion senior Jack VanDusen. “Originally, I was confused as to what was going on and how to engage in the prayer, due to the language barrier. However, I decided midway through the event to stop questioning the events and just embrace the experience. This allowed me to fully realize the benefits of the Buddhist faith.”
“I found the prayers and hymns of the Buddhist culture to be tranquil and peaceful,” reflects Sarah Bouchard ’18. The repetition of the prayers reminded her of a serene humming. “I found the mantras especially helpful to promote positive mental and spiritual attitudes.”
During the service, Pudelek spoke about the ways that both Catholicism and Buddhism recognize humanity’s inordinate grasping for “more” as the root of conflict and violence throughout the world. She also noted that compassion is central to each religious tradition, calling it the key to overcoming the contemporary world’s lurching toward hatred and division.
“Ms. Pudelek’s talk about the relationship between Catholicism and Buddhism showed me that it’s possible to integrate certain aspects of Buddhism into my theological life and provided me with an example of someone who had successfully achieved the same thing,” VanDusen adds.
“Her sermon revealed the benefits of collaborating with other cultures and global religions,” says Bouchard. “She offered great insight on how similar different religions are at their core.”