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Saints, Martyrs and Heroes

2021-11-11

Oct 26 19:00-20:30

Article by Olesia Burlaka, Intern

Public Theology Forums aim to provide a safe space for an open dialogue between LCC students, faculty, and staff.  On October 26th with two major fall holidays Halloween and All Saints’ Day just around the corner, our LCC community gathered for the “Saints, Martyrs and Heroes” event hosted by the Center for Dialogue & Conflict Transformation. This event was moderated by Doug Enns who opened it with explanations on the history behind All Saints’ Day and highlighting ways it is celebrated in Lithuania.

The aim of this event was mainly to listen to seven presenters who had prepared stories about their own saint, hero or martyr. Emma McDonald, Khalid Kaso, Sophia Kozlovska, Robin Mubarik, Beka Gvaramia, Marcela Turcios, and Zabihullah Roshan presented speeches about people that are unique, significant and who made an impact on their own worldview. While some orators chose historical and famous figures such as Saint Agatha of Sicily, or Imam Husayn (the grandson of Prophet Muhammad) others talked about a close family member. Regardless of titles or the publicity of a chosen persona, each speaker shared how their hero, saint or martyr influenced them on a personal level. For instance, Emma McDonald chose her father as an example of the ultimate hero who taught her

“to make a big difference to a small amount of people”

in order to change the world. Beka Gvaramia shared a story about the martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik who was a Christian Armenian woman tortured to death by her husband. Her life was not only a meaningful story for Beka personally, but a cultural and historical reference framed in a tragedy of Georgian and Armenian people. Each speech was reinforced with words of wisdom that powerfully educated the audience who had gathered together to learn about exceptional life stories and brave deeds. Reflections given suggested that actions, beliefs, and principles which stand up to injustice or helping others remain an important component in life as presenters shared their own feelings and learning inspired through the lives and examples of others. Final take-away quotes and comments by the seven speakers reminded all that one is called to

“speak against injustice”, never hesitate to “drink tea with others and appreciate the small stuff”,

while religion can be what carries a person in life,

“what really matters is what they do with it and how they treat others” to “never give up”, in “raising awareness of unjust laws” or in living with the purpose of caring that others find ways to live”

to remembering that strength of character comes out of

“finding the strength within you to hold on when life is difficult”.  

Throughout it all, the conversation continued to link past lives to present ones along lines of beliefs, priorities, trauma, and challenges while weaving ideas like bravery, hope, respect, courage, future, devotion, and living lives of inspiration together. The evening closed with a “Saints, Martyrs and Heroes” Q&A session during which 28 audience members had an opportunity to ask their questions and listen to a more detailed explanation of speakers’ stories.

On Tuesday, Sept 28th the Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation hosted its first Public Theology Forum with a documentary movie “the Imam and the Pastor” and then discussed how two men in Nigeria, a Christian and an Imam were working for peace between their communities in religious conflict in their country.

After the movie, Douglas Enns facilitated an enriching conversation on interfaith dialogue. Participants shared experiences of interfaith dialogue and questions on how we can build bridges that promote a culture of peace in a community where various faiths exist.  Public Theology Forum exists to invite our diverse community – a cultural and religious mosaic – into conversation, moving toward reconciliation and transformation in our lives together and for society as a whole.

Photos left to right: The pannelists, Emma McDonald, Marcela Turcios, Doug Enns and the audience, the audience;

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