An inter-faith cultural event in aid of Mary’s Meals took place in Dundee’s Steeple Church – hosted by St Andrew’s RC Cathedral last Saturday evening.
It saw a spectacular gathering of faith groups and young people all in the pursuit of healing, peace and mutual respect. The charity Mary’s Meals was chosen by Claire van Geete, of St Andrew’s, to give a wonderful Scottish based charity support as hands joined across the faiths.
Claire reports, “Working with a team of people across Dundee city from Craigie High School, Dundee University, D&A College and many faith groups; students Jeanne Arnand (Catholic Students Society) and Rabee’ah Ahmed (Muslim students society) and I created and hosted an International Culture and Food event. Participating groups were invited to contribute something to the gathering be it a song, dance, food or element of their Faith or culture.”
“Every faith group participated in some way including beautiful Hindu classical Indian dance and Bollywood dancing from Dundee Ashram and Mandir; Celtic Trad musicians from Craigie High and Dundee University; Jazz Group from Grove Academy; local piper Ross; local singer song writer Haystack Monolith; Vicky a Chantuese Francais and the inspiring Sisters of Immaculate Mary with African drums and praise. Described by one attendee as “the best night out in Dundee.”
“The Steeple Church space (Church of Scotland), donated for the event by the Rev Robert Calvert, rang out with the best in laughter, culture and friendship as people forgot for an evening what can divide us; and learned a little more of what unites us all.”
“As a Christian and a Catholic I was blessed to be led through the teachings on the pillars of Lent (prayer, fasting and charity) by Canon Kevin Golden. I benefited enormously from having a closer walk with our Lord Jesus, immersing myself in His Word and spending time in prayer, worship and stillness: where I could listen more readily to the prompting of our Lord in the person of the Holy Spirit. Particularly the Journey to Emmaus sessions helped to focus my heart on seeking the will of God and His heart. I spent the season of Lent praying for an opportunity to gather us together as peoples of faith. We are a diverse population now in Dundee and I am fortunate to have time with our very multi-cultural population within St Andrew’s parish. ”
“In the stillness I had a deep sense of the Lord impressing on me the words of John 17:21 “My prayer for all of them is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are, Father – that just as you are in me and I in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me”. I began to pray for unity across the Christian church and opportunity to get to know each other.”
“After the atrocities in Christchurch, Sri Lanka and USA however I came to the Lord in prayer, as I felt a holy anger, that we are all being robbed because of these evil acts. When I discussed this with my uncle who is a Dominican father, his first response was to remind me of these words – attributed to Edmund Burke; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“So I cried to the Lord. I very keenly felt Him encouraging me from John 21:6 “Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything friends?’ And when they answered, ’No’, He said, “Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something”. So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish (153) that they could not haul it in.”
“So I decided to go to the CathSoc mass and talk to the students, Fr Greg and Sisters Sabina and Cosi. Charis, Jeanne, Fiona and so many more said yes – and encouraged me to go to the other faith communities. These young people know how to just be friends. When we are truly friends there can be no hatred.”
“Jeanne, and her friend Rabee’ah, went on to develop a Face Book page to keep the connections going. It is called United Communities of Dundee. Please find us and like the page. It will be a platform for sharing events and ideas across the Christian and wider faith community groups, those seeking peace and respect.”
“We decided, in the first instance, to create an opportunity for us all to spend time together like a family: sharing songs, stories, dance, music, jokes and; of course food! The team at The Steeple were so kind in organising of the event from chair set up to buffet arrangements to a very kind David who stepped in to sound engineer for the evening. As our Cathedral hall is down some tricky steps and was not large enough for our event it was touching to have our Christian neighbours step in and support the vision. As we had approached nearly every faith group in Dundee it was amazing to see the turn out across Hindu, Baha’i, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and even two Muslim men; who had felt they might not come because of Ramadhan; actually came in. The Spirit of the Risen Lord is moving – praise Him.”
“We decided we would like to focus on a charity to gather round in support and chose ‘Mary’s Meals’ They are a Scottish family run charity who support now 1, 425, 013 children in 18 countries with food and education every day! www.marysmeals.org.uk So far we have raised £700 but hope to swell that further with a raffle and the school fund raising of pupils at Craigie High where I teach. All raffle prizes have been donated by local business and individuals: as was all the food and drinks for the international buffet enjoyed on Saturday evening. The food that remained was donated to Jericho House homeless project by Christine and Mary of St Andrew’s RC Cathedral. Another event is hoped for in the autumn.”