Interfaith Literacy and Service

The Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) proclaims, “We live at a time when people of different faith backgrounds are interacting with greater frequency than ever before. We hear the stories of people who seek to make faith a barrier of division or a bomb of destruction all too often. Instead, we view religious and philosophical traditions as bridges of cooperation. Our interfaith movement builds religious pluralism. We define religious pluralism as a world characterized by: Respect for people's diverse religious and non-religious identities, Mutually inspiring relationships between people of different backgrounds, and Common action for the common good.” From IFYC Interfaith Youth Core.

The Interfaith Youth Core has awarded UIW an “Interfaith Innovation Grant” starting in August 2017, and is funding efforts to promote education, understanding and service. UIW joins the IYC which believes that “college students, supported by their campuses, can be the interfaith leaders needed to make religion a bridge and not a barrier.”

Night Vigil

Around the Peace Pole at UIW, Christians, Muslims, Jews and others united for candle light vigil after an outbreak of violence in the world.

The University of the Incarnate Word Mission Statement says, “The University of the Incarnate Word is a Catholic institution that welcomes to its community persons of diverse backgrounds, in the belief that their respectful interaction advances the discovery of truth, mutual understanding, self-realization and the common good.” “Diverse backgrounds,” including interfaith diversity, is held as a positive value.

The Mission also notes aiming “to educate men and women who will become concerned and enlightened citizens within the global community.” University of the Incarnate Word students and faculty come from over seventy different countries. Members of the UIW community have wonderful opportunities to learn from each other's cultures and traditions. Learn more at UIW By the Numbers.

UIW students learn in a Buddhist temple.

UIW students learn in a Buddhist temple.

Buddhism is a philosophy which developed in Asia. Both followers called Buddhists, people of other faiths and of no faith are enriched by its ideas and practices. Learn more at Buddhism for Beginners and read about Buddhist holidays here.

UIW students in front of the Hindu temple in Helotes, TX

UIW students in front of the Hindu temple in Helotes, TX

The oldest continuous religion is Hinduism. A number of UIW faculty and students are of the Hindu tradition. Learn more at Hinduism for beginners. They enrich our campus with annual Diwali festival with the beauty of lights and ideas of good triumphing over evil.

UIW students learn in a Hindu temple

UIW students learn in a Hindu temple.

UIW students learn at the Muslim Children Education and Civic Center

UIW students learn at the Muslim Children Education and Civic Center.

The Islamic tradition respects the various messengers from God, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and especially Mohammad who brought the revelations of the Quran. Learn more about Islam and more about Islamic Holidays here

Syrian and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians participate in the blessing of the Holy Land garden on the UIW campus

Syrian and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians participate in the blessing of the Holy Land garden on the UIW campus.

The University of the Incarnate Word is a Catholic school. The church founded by Jesus Christ has many expressions in Roman Catholicism, Orthodox traditions and Protestantism.


A Sukkoth Booth remembering the Jewish festival at UIW

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are called Abrahamic traditions that developed from similar roots in the Middle East. They affirm one creator who is compassionate. Learn more about Judaism and about Jewish holidays.

Sikhs are respected for lovingly serving Langor, a meal for anyone who comes. All share the same food and sit on the same level revealing that the Creator has made all people equal. Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanuk in India and is the fifth largest religion in the world.

Learn more about Sikhm and of their Sikhm religious holidays.

World on fire

“The world is burning. . .” an exhibit by the Sikhs at the Parliament of World Religions proclaimed.

All people are called to recognize the challenges of poverty, climate change, and violence and to unite as the human family. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are ways of helping us to work together globally for the common good.

A class of UIW students were involved in inaugurating the Charter for Compassion in San Antonio, Texas, at UIW in November 2009. The Charter for Compassion has wisdom from the heart of the world's great religions and philosophies. With many people working together, the movement grew in San Antonio. The San Antonio City Council passed the Compassionate City Resolution unanimously on June 22, 2017.

Compassionate San Antonio is a grassroots movement in which the city government, the religious and volunteer organizations, the businesses, the community and its educational institutions come together to recognize the importance and value of compassion in the life of a city and by doing so create an ethos of compassion and a safety net for its most vulnerable citizens.

Interfaith Service Opportunities

UIW was “born in civic engagement.” In the 1860's the San Antonio mayor asked for help because there was no public healthcare. Then three young French women, the first Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, Texas, responded and founded the first hospital in our city. The University is rooted in this history of compassionate care for the sick, the orphans and the uneducated. We continue developing innovative and compassionate service in light of today's pressing needs.

Interfaith literacy is a pressing need.

We encourage you to do service uniting with people of different faiths and serving people of different faiths. Learn of various community partners who seek service.

UIW is a Catholic school and because of that promotes interfaith understanding. To learn of growing interfaith awareness and encouragement in the Catholic Church, see the resources of The Scarboro Missions.

The Pluralism Project at Harvard University has extensive resources for learning about the great variety of religious traditions in the USA.

The Interfaith Youth Core offers ways that students can become leaders in the interfaith movement and campuses can be models for society. Visit Interfaith Youth Core and learn more of the interfaith story.


Some of the UIW faculty who participated in the 2017-18 “Interfaith Literacy, Fluency, and Service” Cohort led by Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Religious Studies, Dr. Lopita Nath, History, and Dr. Susan Hall of the Center for Teaching and Learning. In April 2018 they shared on what they and students had learned and on interfaith service that had been done. Within the year, over a thousand people had benefited with growing interfaith awareness and experiences.