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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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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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