“For such a long time, we felt like we’ve needed more interfaith and multifaith things, especially here at Lincoln Center—that’s really who our community is,” she said.
The picnic inspired members of Campus Ministry and the Center for Community Engaged Learning to look for other ways to celebrate and learn more about the variety of faiths at Fordham.
Kujegi Camara, the assistant director of community engagement and operations for the Center for Community Engaged Learning, said that while on a coffee break at a recent divisional meeting, she began thinking about the many religious holidays at the end of March and into April—Easter, Ramadan, multiple Sikh holidays, and more.
This time of year, she thought, offered a perfect opportunity to “celebrate our cultural diversity at Fordham.”
That’s how Faith Fest was born.
Connecting Through Events
Over the next few weeks, there will be events to help students, faculty, and staff learn, serve, and pray together. Hoffman said that Campus Ministry and the Center for Community Engaged Learning organized three main events, but student groups and other organizations are adding others. This allows them to “showcase the way faith is alive at Fordham,” she said.
“Because we’re at a university, it’s an opportunity to really engage faith and spiritual diversity from different perspectives,” she said. “We have the academic perspective, the learning about faith, engaging in intellectual discussion about it. There’s the implementing it—the call to serve that’s a value that most faiths have. And then there’s the experience of faith itself through prayer and spirituality.”
The series kicks off on Wednesday, March 29, at 6 p.m. with a panel discussion,“Welcoming the Stranger: Hospitality and Faith Responses to the Migration Crisis.” The event, which will take place at the Lincoln Center campus, will feature faith leaders from across the city in conversation about how they are responding to the needs of migrants in their communities.
On Saturday, April 1, at 10 a.m., all are invited to participate in a day of service focused on caring for the Earth “our common home.” Attendees are invited to meet at the Rose Hill campus before heading to Mosholu Park to work with the local group Bronx is Blooming.
Finally, there will be two interfaith “prayers and fairs”—one on Thursday, April 13, at 12 p.m. at Lincoln Center, and one on Thursday, April 20, at 1 p.m. at Rose Hill. Faith-based student clubs and groups will showcase their faith traditions through food, sacred items, prayers, and more.
The events will also serve to highlight two important social justice issues—migration and environmentalism—that are at the center of many conversations and policy decisions.
“Those two issues are completely related in many ways, especially as we look to the future—care for home, care for one another,” Hoffman said.
Importance of Coming Together to Celebrate
Camara and Hoffman emphasized that one of the main goals of Faith Fest is to highlight the religious diversity of all groups. Camara said that as a Jesuit university, Fordham is the right place to host an event celebrating different faiths, allowing them to both share common themes and better understand each other’s differences.
“Creating a space where students, faculty, staff are joined together in celebration, but also have an avenue for questions, is something that Fordham is uniquely positioned to do, which is why I think Faith Fest is really powerful,” she said.
Hoffman also noted that there’s a misconception about students’ interest in faith that comes from a focus exclusively on attendance rates at religious services.
“There’s a lot more spiritual and religious depth to the students that I think they’re given credit for, and that’s something that we really wanted to highlight and to help them find each other,” she said.
To learn more about Faith Fest and see the full calendar of events, visit fordham.edu/faithfest.