The American Catholic Historical Society was privileged to be asked to be a part of Interfaith Philadelphia and the Dare to Understand Award ceremony, which was held on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Monsignor Gregory Fairbanks, who serves both on Interfaith Philadelphia and the ACHS boards, was among the speakers.
Interfaith Philadelphia was established in 2004 to be “an agency that could facilitate reconciliation, mutual trust, and common action across religious communities.” From its beginning, people of many faith traditions have come together with the conviction that people ought to “dare to understand” each other as one of its signature initiatives.
This year, Interfaith Philadelphia chose to highlight local Catholic involvement in interfaith relations in recent generations. Two long time Catholic leaders in interfaith relations were honored: Monsignor Michael Carroll and Sister Maria Hornung, MMS. Both have had long involvement in local and international interfaith relations.
As part of the program, the ACHS was consulted to provide some background for Catholic interfaith involvement in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Dr. Patrick Hayes collated much information, which included news of the first major interfaith prayer service in the city in 1964, while Vatican II was still being held.
Sponsored by the archdiocese’s newly-established Commission on Human Relations, whose two-fold purpose was to foster ecumenical relations and attend to racial cooperation and healing, the prayer event brought together in unity Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faith leaders to decry racial prejudice.