IMG_0211One week before the 17th anniversary of 9/11, a potluck dinner took place at Saint Viator High School that was designed for students and adults alike to learn about other cultures and faith traditions, while building bridges toward peace.

Called a “Potluck for Peace,” the dinner was hosted by members of the Children of Abraham Coalition, which includes Saint Viator students, as well as those from Jewish and Muslim communities. Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, started the movement in 2011.

IMG_0198“We can’t stop all the religious-based hate in the world, but we can do our part,” Fr. Brost says. “We can be people of peace in our corner of the world, especially on Sept.11, a day that showed how deadly religious hate can be.”

Attendance at the dinner has grown each year. One Tuesday, more than 200 people filled Querbes Hall, bringing with them food items from their respective cultures. But more than a smorgasbord buffet, this dinner party came with instructions: Sit at a table that includes someone from a different religion than yours, and introduce yourself.

IMG_0169From there, the conversation and stories flowed naturally.

“What impacted me the first time I came is that you’re able to sit with a complete stranger and you connect with them,” said Sarah McDermott ’19, who now serves on the board of the coalition. “People can be so different, but you don’t have to focus on that. You share a meal together and find out just how much you have in common.”

IMG_0181Another teen, Barrington High School senior, Haider Ali, found himself to be one of the only Muslims sitting at his table. When asked to describe what he does on the Children of Abraham Coalition board, Haider described working to host the first Peace Camp that brought children of different faith backgrounds together to advance interfaith understanding.

He also conceded that his mother made him join the coalition, but now he enjoys working together with other teens from different backgrounds.

IMG_0165“We really working to spread the interfaith message,” Haider said. “It’s interesting to see how other people react. I’m enjoying it.”