Interfaith Literacy and Service

Interfaith Events


Primary sacred times for world religions

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See a report about our previous World Interfaith Harmony Week, “TOGETHER Caring for Creation” pictured above.

An “All Faiths Reflection Room” in the new UIW Student Engagement Center Building was named in honor of Adell Ferguson Polk, the first Black graduate of Incarnate Word College in 1956. Read a little about this fine woman  She was a woman of faith and dedication. Please help spread word of the “All Faiths Reflection Room” which has texts from some of the major faiths, prayer rugs, chairs and a quiet peaceful atmosphere.

president_all_faiths_roomUIW President Thomas Evans assisting in the dedication of the All Faiths Reflection Room in the new Student Engagement Center, Room 3140.

Coming Events 

You and your family are invited to the UIW Diwali Festival of Lights on November 12, 2018, Rosenberg Sky Room,  5 pm social hour and henna, 6:00pm, Puja, dinner, and entertainment. It will be a wonderful evening of celebration of the South Asian global festival, showcasing the symbolism, culture, art  and cuisine of this festival that is now celebrated worldwide. Please make reservations 

 Past Events


Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, Jay Mijagiri, and Jahnavi D. Mijagiri, a UIW student enjoy the Festival of Chariots, July 7, 2018, at Woodlawn Lake in San Antonio. His shirt says, “Don’t hate, meditate.” Ratha-yatra, or the Festival of Chariots, is a joyous event that has been celebrated for over 3000 years in the ancient holy city of Puri in Orissa, India, making it the oldest street festival in the world. The cultural festival consists of a procession when devotees pull huge festive chariots carrying Deities of Krishna while chanting and dancing joyfully, culminating in a “Festival of India” with entertainment, free-feast booths, and a variety of cultural displays and exhibits.

Members of the UIW community attended the Ramadan Dialogue Dinner hosted by the Raindrop Foundation, May 26, 2018.  UIW has its first class of students in the new School of Ostiopathic Medicine. Some of them and their Dean attended. The dinner commemorated Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan focused on fasting, works of charity, and prayer. Participants had opportunities to make friends, listen to live Sufi music, and to learn more about the practice of fasting during the holiest month. Donations to help the SA Food Bank were encouraged. After sunset a delicious dinner of Turkish foods was served.


Leaders of over twenty different faith groups in San Antonio spoke at a gathering to remember the 300th Anniversary of the city of San Antonio, May 3, 2018.  Native peoples began. Franciscans bringing stories of Christianity were remembered. Major religious traditions from throughout the world are now part of the fabric of the city. San Fernando Cathedral seen in the background is the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the U.S.

Faculty members participating in the Interfaith Youth Core Innovation Grant this past academic year focusing on Interfaith Literacy, Fluency, and Service presented how they and students learned and were engaged in service,  April 24. Ideas for continuing and deepening interfaith engagement were discussed.

“Peacebuilding in the Modern World” a Panel Discussion with Fulbright Scholars: Dr. Damira Sikhimbayeva from Kazkhstan, Dr. Sona Manusyan, Armenia, Dr. Emre Hatipoglu, Turkey, Dr. Kacper Tomasz Gradon, Poland, moderated by Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez, was held on April 19, 2018. 

“Interplay of Ethnic Nationalism and Islam in post Soviet Kazakhstan” was presented April 18  by Dr. Damira Sikhimbayeva, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Political Science and Religion Studies, Department of Political Science in Kazakhstan. She is currently a Fulbright Scholar at the Department of Anthropology, Texas A & M University. Dr. Sikhimbayeva obtained her PhD in Political Science at Al Farabi Kazakh National University in 2014. Her research interests include the impact of religion on the modern world, interethnic relations, and ethno politics.  


Dr. Dennis Gonzales, the Vice-President of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care and Dr. Thomas Evans, the UIW President carry the gifts in a Christian Eucharist for the Tricentennial Celebration.

"Mi Casa Es Su Casa," an Incarnate Word Festival on April 15, 2018, during the San Antonio Tricentennial Year included interfaith and intercultural exhibits and activities   The American Indians shared information on the meaning of the Medicine Wheel. 


 The "American Indians in Texas" shared a ceremony expressing gratitude for creation at the Blue Hole which is the place of the San Antonio Springs, the Headwaters of the San Antonio River.

matMatachines Led Prayer in Dance, April 15,  at Our Lady's Grotto.  The day included many intercultural and interfaith exhibits and activities including the “Interfaith Music Ensemble” from the Turkish Raindrop House. This group of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian musicians performs with Middle Eastern instruments and song. Turkish Folk-Dance was shared by students of the Harmony School of Excellence.         


Interfaith San Antonio Alliance (ISAA) 

Sister Martha Ann Kirk, UIW Professor, Rev. Ann Helmke, City Faith-based Initiatives Office,  Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham, Congregation Agudas Achim,  Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, San Antonio Archdiocese,  Mr. Mike Oakes, Oak Hills Church, Rabbi Sam Stahl, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth El, Rabbi Steven Gutow, New York University, and other Muslim, Protestant, Sikh, and Catholic leaders met as part of the Interfaith Leadership and Civic Engagement efforts. UIW is joining in circles of interfaith advocacy and service for “Affordable Housing, Homelessness, and Gentrification” with Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Protestant, and Catholic partners.  Rabbi Gutow is associated with the NYU program promoting local engagement in the face of needs   A strategic plan for united efforts is being developed in light of the Mayor's Task Force on Affordable Housing. Learn more.   Both National Catholic Reporter and Religion News Service featured the story of this growing interfaith initiative, "After 50 years, clergy work together again in San Antonio, for affordable housing." Read more.   

The New York Jewish Week, one of the top three of the Jewish press in the US, published an article by Rabbi Steve Gutow about his work and what is developing in   Rev. Wyndee E. Holbrook has been selected as the executive director and Alamo Heights United Methodist Church has provided office space.

celebrate_springCelebrate Spring  UIW Students, faculty, and friends hosted refugee children and their families for the 8th annual gathering with arts, crafts, music, stories, and games about Passover, Easter, Narouz, and Holi, spring traditions of different faiths. Friday, March 30, 9:30 am to 1 pm, St. Francis Episcopal Church Pavilion, 4242 Bluemel Rd, San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about UIW people of different faiths sharing with people of different faiths    and 

interfaith_music“Teaching Compassion and Making a Difference,” the 13th Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner and Award Ceremony was held  March 3, 2018 in the UIW Rosenberg Skyroom. Acclaimed writer John Phillip Santos was the keynote speaker. Awards were presented to civic leaders and groups. Music was provided by the Raindrop interfaith ensemble of Jews, Muslims, and Christians,The evening was hosted by the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest and co-sponsored by UIW.  

Sikh Art and Film Festival was held February  24, 2018 at Trinity University Laurie Auditorium.It provided an opportunity to learn about the vibrant Sikh community and to meet inspiring leaders such as  Lt. Col. Kamal Singh Kalsi. RSVP   

holiFestival of Colors. The South Asian festival of Holi was celebrated at UIW on Thursday, March 1 from 11:30 a.m., - 5 p.m., on Dubuis Lawn. The Festival of Colors included not only the Holi color throwing, but also a World Market, cultural activities, live DJ, musical and dance performances from around the world, and free food provided by Pasha Express. This was co-hosted by Campus Life and Pasha Express. 

World Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7, 2018

The University of the Incarnate Word joins communities around the world observing this special time designated by the United Nations.   

Thursday, February 1, 2018, an opening dialogue and reception was held in the UIW Library Special Collections.

The week included opportunities to join  

Muslim friends, Friday, February 2, 1 pm, Muslim Children Education and Civic Center, 5281 Casa Bella, San Antonio, TX 78249  The UIW Alumni of Distinction Sarwat Husain who is a leader in CAIR hosted. 

Jewish friends, Friday February 2, 6:15 pm, Congregation Agudas Achim, 1655 Huebner Road, San Antonio, TX 78248  UIW Music faculty Dr. Orit Eylon cantored.

Learning to serve together--Saturday, February 3, 11th Annual Community Service Learning (CSL) Conference, “Health Where We Live: The Role of the Neighborhood,” Health care as a collaborative effort.  Prabhjot Singh, MD, PhD, Vice Chairman of Medicine for Population Health and Director of the Arnhold Institute for the Mount Sinai Healthcare System, presented wisdom gleaned from his global and domestic experiences in community health. He  discussed his recent book Dying and Living in the Neighborhood: A Street-Level View of America’s Healthcare Promise

Hindu friends, Sunday morning, February 4, Hindu Temple 18518 Bandera Road,  Helotes, TX 78023   

Buddhist friends, Sunday morning, February 4, for the ceremony and lunch, Wat Dhammabucha,  6201 Sawyer Road, San Antonio, TX 78238, Phone (210) 520-5011                                                                                                   

Christian friends, Monday, February 5, 12 noon for Catholic Eucharist, Our Lady’s Chapel, UIW Administration Building

Join Buddhist friends, Tuesday, February 6, 7 pm for meditation instruction. The Shambhala Meditation Center, 257 E. Hildebrand  San Antonio, TX 78212                                                           

 The UIW 2018 World Interfaith Harmoney events were listed at  

 Asian New Year 2018, Feruary 12, 11:30AM-1:30PM, The University of the Incarnate Word Student Engagement Center Ballroom. Free wonderful performances and great cultural experience! Learn of Asian religious traditions. If you are interested in the city celebration.

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 Read About and see Pictures of Past Events  in 2017

Interfaith Literacy for All UIW Employees, Sept. 15, Friday, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM, Admin 365 or attend by ZOOM. Repeated Sept. 20, 12 noon to 1 pm, Library Special Collections. See the 50 minute film of the introduction presented by Sister Martha Ann Kirk (Religious Studies, Ettling Center for Civic Leadership), Dr. Lopita Nath (History), and Dr. Susan Hall (Center for Teaching and Learning) If you would like, to see up close the two PowerPoints which were shown in that film, links can be found at

 Interfaith Accommodations on College Campuses The Interfaith Youth Core three-part webinar Interfaith Accommodations on College Campuses. The series will explore what it takes to create welcoming spaces for growing worldview diversity. We’ll cover:

· Common interfaith policies and accommodations

· Assessment options for determining need

· Campus-specific steps for implementation

Facilities, Policies, Meal Plans, Oh My: Determining Your Campus Accommodation Needs (October 10, 2017, Gorman Building 120, 12 noon - 1pm)

So, Here’s the Plan: Taking Steps to Establish Interfaith Accommodations (November 7, 2017, Gorman Building 120, 12 noon – 1 pm)

The Difference it Makes: Communicating Positive Impact of Interfaith Accommodations (November 28th, Gorman Building 120, 12 noon – 1 pm)

 Mystical Arts of Tibet, Sunday, October 1, 2017, 1 pm. Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery visit the Institute of Texan Cultures for a four-day residency to construct a magnificent Green Tara Buddhist mandala sand painting and lead rituals closing at the San Antonio River.  Join Sister Martha Ann Kirk and Incarnate Word friends

Buddhist at river 20171001_160258

 Interfaith Understanding and Support presented by Dr. Lopita Nath and Sister Martha Ann Kirk for International Student Ambassadors, Friday, Oct. 13, 6 pm. Sponsored by the International Student and Scholar Services

Ambassedors UIW Interfaith Conference sponsored by UIW Mission and Ministry, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, Tynman Hall, Oblate School of Theology. Contact Rev Trevor Alexander and Brenda Dimas,  P#: 210-829-3128.

The first panel was shared by UIW students, Norah Al-Ladhal, a Nursing student from Saudi Arabia, David Rodriguez, Business Management student, Deju Keys, a Criminal Justice student, and Zane Alsareinye, a Psychology student who is president of the UIW Interfaith Student organization. Click here to read more including "Building on the Dream: Becoming the Beloved Community" shared by Dr. Raymond Blanton.   

Peace Day, Peace Day, Oct. 25, 12 noon  - 1:15 pm, UIW Student Engagement Center 2030-2,  Nazi Racial Policy, 1933-1945: From Persecution to Extermination  by Dr. Roger Barnes, UIW Professor of Sociology, examined Nazi policies on Jews and other "undesirables" before and during WW II.  He explored how stereotyping, stigmatization, and hate fueled the Holocaust.  The audience considered how some of these forces are manifest in today's society. Contact:    

Peace Day, Oct. 25, 3:00 – 4:15 pm, UIW SEC 2030-2,  Would you have tried to stop the Jewish Holocaust? What are you doing in the face of Rohingya Crisis now? An outbreak of violence against a Muslim group called Rohingyas in Burma (Myanmar) started in 2012. Many have been killed or displaced and this has led to more than 500,000 terrified Rohingya refugees fleeing and going to Bangladesh. Dr. Lopita Nath, Assistant Professor of History, led a panel considering this crisis and the call to respond. Contact:  

rohingha Peace Day, Oct. 25, 6:30 pm, Raindrop Turkish House, Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing Presentations led by murder victim family members who conduct public education speaking tours and addresses alternatives to the death penalty. Over a deligious dinner, Turkish hosts helped all know a little about the respect for life in Islam. Raindrop Turkish House 4337 Vance Jackson. Ste. 203. San Antonio phone 210-337-1114 Contact: Mehmet Oguz (713) 277-5044 

The UIW Saudi Student Club sponsored the Saudi National Day celebration with live traditional music, a Heritage fashion show, a documentary film about the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, photographs, and traditional food. Information on the center of Islam in Mecca. Monday, October 30th, 2017, 6 p.m. to 10 pm. UIW Rosenberg Skyroom at UIW. Contact 210-400-0755.  Email: 

Celebrating the South Asian holiday of Diwali: Festival of Lights at UIW!  Nov. 1, 5 pm Photobooth and Henna, 6 pm Dinner, Puja and Performances, Rosenberg Skyroom, International Conference Center, Hildebrand at 281. Featuring South Asian cuisine, dance and musical performances, information on Diwali, and festivities! Cohosted by International Affairs, Campus Engagement. Special thanks to Dr. Sushma Ramsinghani and Dr. Lopita Nath. UIW students free. diwali17