Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

A member of an Egyptian delegation answers students’ questions in a Marist School World Religions class, communicating with the help of a translator.


Marist hosts Egyptian delegation

Published April 1, 2010

Marist School hosted five Egyptian educators for an interfaith dialogue on Islam and Christianity, sponsored jointly by the U.S. Department of State, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Office of International Visitors.

The delegation consisted of five professors of Islamic law and religion from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, one of the world’s oldest universities and a center of Islamic learning.

During their visit, the delegation spoke to Marist School’s World Religions class, answering questions about Islamic religion and culture. Afterward, they met with current and former members of Peace by Piece, a student group organized by the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and made up of students from Marist School, the W.D. Mohammed School, and the Weber School, who work to promote respect and understanding among students of different faith traditions.

“The meeting with the Egyptian scholars was unique,” said Marist Father Joel Konzen, principal of Marist School. “I believe it was a one-time chance for these religious visitors to engage in conversation with American Christian young people about their perceptions of Islam and their awareness of the situation in Egypt. … Both our students and the Egyptian delegation felt that the meeting was valuable in terms of bringing the two cultures together over serious questions and real desire for understanding on the part of all involved.”

World Religions instructor Steven Vickery said, “I want students to understand another perspective on the world so they can be intelligently tolerant. My hope is that the course will encourage students to appreciate diverse responses to the divine, provide a larger worldview, and help students understand ways of analyzing culture and religion.”

The group traveled to the U.S. as part of the International Visitor Leadership program with the goal of examining the Muslim community against those of other major faith traditions in the United States, as well as reviewing the American civil rights movement and current protections against discrimination.