The sixth annual “9/11 Potluck for Peace” dinner on Wednesday drew more than 200 guests, up by more than 50 from the year before, and nearly filled Querbes Hall with people of all ages and faith traditions.
“I’m thrilled to see so many people here,” said Devon Sheehan ’18, who is a member of the Children of Abraham Coalition, which hosted the event. “It gives me hope that we can be agents of change in some small way.”
Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, helped to form the Children of Abraham Coalition in 2011 as a way to confront religious-based hatred. Its signature potluck dinner is designed to draw families to come together and share food from different cultures while hearing from young people from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith traditions.
The dinner always takes place near the anniversary of 9/11 and offers guests a positive way to fight religious-based hatred.
Abbey Finn, a sophomore at Buffalo Grove High School who is Jewish, was one of three young speakers. She described visiting the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York, on the exact day as the events that took place in Charlottesville, VA.
“Now more than ever we need to come together,” Abbey said. “We, the next generation need to create peace.”
Sara Ahmed, 17, of Barrington told of attending the funeral of Muhammad Ali last year, of how he was an agent of peace working to bring people together.
“Tonight gives me great hope,” Sara said, “when I see how many people want to learn about different faith traditions and work toward interfaith dialogue.”
Students who attended included members of Saint Viator’s Justice League, who look for ways to advance positive social change.
Mary Peterson ’18 said she has attended the potluck dinner all of her four years and she enjoys the great variety of foods displayed, but she also found the event’s mission inspiring. Mary joined the Justice League freshman year and this year she is one of its core leaders.
“I just find the whole aspect of coming together, as one community, really powerful,” Mary said.
The dinner drew Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes as well as Mr. Brian Liedlich, president. Both addressed the crowd before dinner.
Mr. Liedlich described how Saint Viator is rooted in the Viatorian mission of “raising up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated,” and he commended the group for its mission of encouraging–especially students–to look for ways to learn from one another.
In closing, he drew on the words of Fr. Louis Querbes, founder of the Viatorians: “People are bolder when they dream they are doing God’s work.”