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Eboo Patel: A New Chapter View Comments
By Judy Ball

It didn’t take the horrors of September 11, 2001, to convince Eboo Patel of the importance of working toward interfaith understanding, cooperation and service. As an American Muslim committed to peace and respect for all religions, he’d already been about that task for years. The tragedies of 9/11 only deepened his resolve to build bridges of understanding between and among peoples in order to overcome the hatred that reigned that day.

Spurred by the belief that religion is a force for good, Eboo had founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 1998 at age 22. Its goal: to harness the positive energy of young people of all faiths—including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus; to replace religious conflict with interfaith cooperation; to inspire college students from diverse backgrounds to work side by side in service projects.

Today the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a thriving organization active on close to 100 campuses across the United States—many of them Catholic—and in several foreign countries. (For more information on the IFYC, see Youth + Faith + Service.)

“Can religion play a positive role in society? It can and it has to!” Eboo tells St. Anthony Messenger during an hourlong interview in the fourth-floor offices of the IFYC in Chicago’s West Loop. No group is better prepared to play a key role in transforming the world, he believes, than young people whose faith inspires them to service. (IFYC also welcomes students of no particular faith.)

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Judy Ball is a freelance writer for St. Anthony Messenger who has traveled to a number of Muslim
countries.


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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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