As we remember the tragedy of 9/11/2001 when we experienced the loss of over 3000 lives in the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and the crashing of United Airlines Flight 93 in southern Pennsylvania, I also recall that our oldest daughter, Corita Grudzen, MD, had just started her emergency department residency at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, thereby becoming one of the first medical responders to this horrific event. We were able to visit her in New York that fall and go to Mass with her at St. Paul’s Chapel, which became a central location for a variety of social and spiritual services for those working near Ground Zero.
St. Paul’s Chapel stands directly across the street from Ground Zero and somehow escaped any damage from the destruction of the Twin Towers. People of every faith and no faith found a home at St. Paul’s Chapel during the following year as New York, the nation and the world attempted to grasp the enormity of this epochal event.
Clearly a new path forward was needed to address the challenge of our time. Such a path would have to include a global and interfaith response. In that same year of 2001, Global Ministries University was established to address the new era in which we found ourselves. GMU would become a leader in training a new generation of spiritual leaders who could be empowered to serve people of diverse faith traditions or those who had no religious affiliation. Just as St. Paul’s Chapel could open its doors to everyone who wished to enter, so GMU opened theological education to a more diverse and inclusive philosophy and theology.
At GMU, we offer a global perspective, faculty and multifaceted curriculum. An inclusive gender model for its faculty, staff, administration, student body and course offerings is also a hallmark of GMU.
GMU’s global outreach over its 20-year history has featured its engagement with the Islamic faith community both in the US and in Africa. In 2011, GMU began an interfaith education program in Kenya with Christian and Muslim faith leaders and teachers in the Mombasa region.
Because of GMU’s commitment to interfaith education in Kenya, we were invited to form an affiliation with the Tangaza University Institute for Interreligious Dialogue and Islamic Studies in 2020. Beginning in August of 2020 we began planning with Tangaza University and other Christian and Muslim organizations in Africa, Europe, Indonesia, and the US to co-sponsor an international conference on building human solidarity inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. Over 3000 participants, including scholars and religious leaders from throughout the world, took part in this conference from August 19-21, 2021.
Over its 20-year history, GMU has connected with a network of interfaith organizations that includes the Parliament of World’s Religions. GMU is presently part of an international consortium planning a second international and interfaith conference on building human solidarity in February of 2023.
As we reflect on the tragic events of twenty years ago, let us also embrace Global Ministries University’s commitment to dialogue, inclusion, and collaboration and work for a more just and peaceful world.
Gerald Grudzen, GMU President
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