Interreligious encounter, a necessity

Interreligious meeting at Villeurbanne (Lyon – France).

As part of « Welcome to Villeurbanne », the theme for the year in the city of Villeurbanne (Lyon),  the local elected officials together with the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities organized an encounter and sharing in the Community Life Cutural Center on the afternoon of November 25th.  Almost 500 people including numerous families and children eagerly attended.

« Welcoming our religious traditions » was presented by the young Rabbi of the Keren Or synagogue, by Fr. Damien Guyot (pastor of our parish) and by the imam of Décines who introduced his talk with these words :  « Our meeting is not an option, it is a necessity ». Based on their own texts, the speakers recalled Abraham’s attitude and the way to  welcome a brother/sister in distress.

The religious leaders of Villeurbanne respect and appreciate one another.

Afterwards,  4 groups from  Villeurbanne gave their witness :  «Women in dialogue» which regularly shares on life themes (pardon-friendship-respect) and organizes friendly gatherings  (meals, group outings…) ;  the group «Never without a roof», a lay multireligious association committed to welcoming foreigners ;  the «Little Brothers of the Poor» a non-denominational  association grouping believers and unbelievers at the service of people who are alone;  and finally the «Inter-religious group» which organizes discussions meant to build «living together», mutual knowledge and fraternity. It  is the group to which I belong.

About 50 children and adolescents invaded the stage to sing a poem composed by one of them : Salut ! Salam ! Shalom ! Let’s lead humanity towards a world of peace !…

Religious leaders at an evening meeting at Villeurbanne (Lyon).

Then six children of six different religions acted out the story of Muslims and Christians who hid and saved Jews  during the last World War. Then everyone  took up the song again : Salut ! Salam ! Shalom ! A word that means  fraternity…

A snack which prolonged the encounters and conversations was then served by members of the three religions.   «What strikes me», said Azzdine Gaci, imam at our neighbouring mosque, « is the atmosphere of joy and fraternity that is  emerging among us» !

Interreligious meeting at Villeurbanne (Lyon).

Many members of the 30 judeo-islamo-christian groups meeting in Lyon came to share our feast that afternoon ! «Salut ! Salam ! Shalom ! sing the hearts of people ! Let us lead humanity towards a world of peace!»

Odile Payen
Community of Villeurbanne (France) 

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