All Faith Service: Students' Faith Has an Opportunity to Flourish

Davis Luanava transferred to the University of San Diego just last year, but it appears she has found a connection that greatly appeals to her among the campus community and one that brings her closer to her Native American Indian heritage.


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Luanava, a member of the Hopi Native American tribe in northeastern Arizona, had the honor of closing USD’s 25th All Faith Service by delivering the prayer of intercession following a Kumeyaay Bird Song presentation by Kumeyaay native speaker Stan Rodriguez.

“Thank you to the Creator for giving us the gift of these songs, the gifts of pine nuts, acorns, the red-tailed hawk and the new moon that remind us of the importance of paying attention to each other, to our memories and the wisdom of our people,” Luanava said proudly from the Shiley Theatre stage on Thursday.

“It felt amazing,” she said afterward. “I was asked to do it. I’d never had the experience to really share my faith with everybody before so to pray our own way and share it with everyone was so impactful.”

The Native American perspective, along with five other world religions, were welcomed in by USD and Monsignor Daniel J. Dillabough. The theme, “Reaching Beyond Ourselves: Flourishing Together in a Globalized World,” anchored the reflections’ focus.

“We gather today as people of different religions and faith traditions, as a university community to pray,” Msgr. Dillabough said. “Seven decades ago, (founders) Bishop Buddy and Mother Hill dreamed of a place where people would be transformed by encountering beauty, goodness and truth. We carry forth their vision as we stand here today on this beautiful land, the traditional territory of the Kumeyaay people.

“As USD moves into its future, celebrating religious diversity remains vital to fulfilling our mission as a contemporary and engaged Catholic university, today's theme invites us to consider how the world's religions offer us a connection to what lies beyond the here and now,” he continued. “Each faith tradition is distinct and there are differences that are not easily overcome. But at their best, each offers an account of a life worth living, of wisdom and how to nurture altruism and encourage global solidarity.”

Indeed, Luanava’s joy from her participation, wasn’t an isolated experience. She was one of six USD students to contribute meaningfully to this traditional USD spring semester kickoff event.

Amina Yusuf ’18 gave the prayer of intercession following the Muslim Call to Prayer by Imam Taha Hassane. Allison Phillips ’21 spoke on behalf of the Buddhist religion after Diana Shimkus’ mindful message presentation; Meagan Wilkinson ’18 followed the Christian Reflection given by Dr. Miroslav Volf; Riya Pandit ’20 shared the prayer following a beautiful Hindu dance by Sri Rajesh Kumar Palai and Laboni Patnai, and Glenda Joffe delivered the Jewish prayer, preceded by USD School of Law Professor Richard Barton’s Jewish teaching.

“Being mindful of ourselves, of others and the world around us, may we learn to extend compassion in all directions and may that compassion allow us to reach beyond our limitations to bring out the peace and harmony of all beings,” was what Phillips recited.

As a first-year student and a first-time participant in the All Faith Service, Phillips enjoyed her experience. “This event is so necessary. The community needs to know how open we are,” Phillips said. “Faith grounds us. It’s a beautiful thing. I think we should embrace faith in all forms.”

Yusuf, although a senior, also participated in her first All Faith Service, and also enjoyed it. Her prayer offered praise and with it, a call for social justice: “Merciful One, you created the heavens and the earth and everything in between; you are great beyond our imaginings, help us live more in your holiness and virtue, fighting racism, sexism and inequity wherever we encounter it.”

Afterward, she enjoyed the feeling that the All Faith Service helps raise greater awareness of the need for togetherness. “People should be more committed to work on being united and not divided.”

Setting the Standard Symposium

The All Faith Service this year was part of a united message by USD as the service was the first of three events on campus that comprised the inaugural Setting the Standard Symposium.

“It is designed to catalyze meaningful dialogue around what it means to set the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university,” USD President James T. Harris said. “The symposium will help us explore a campus wide conversation on how best to proceed on our path to the forefront of Catholic higher education.”

Dr. Volf, the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology, and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, reflected on the Christian articulation of promoting human flourishing at the All Faith Service. He gave a faculty keynote address later Thursday, exploring major themes in his book, “Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World,” such as how world religions’ vision of human flourishing is a necessary moral compass in a globalizing world where cherished beliefs and values are often brought into conflict. Volf concluded his stint at USD today with a breakfast discussion on the topic, “What is a Life Worth Living?” with more than 150 student leaders.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Photos by Nick Abadilla


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