San Antonio’s Festival of Faiths Hosted by UIW, Interfaith San Antonio Alliance and Compassionate San Antonio

January 26, 2024

On Sunday, Jan. 21, the UIW Pastoral Institute had the privilege of co-hosting San Antonio’s inaugural Festival of Faiths. The event encouraged its roughly 700 attendees to build connections through the shared value of faith that is present within belief systems found across the city.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg opened the festival with remarks noting the diversity and compassion that he feels define the culture of the city. This celebration, he shared, was just one of the many ways in which these qualities are acknowledged and embraced in San Antonio.

DancersThroughout the day, attendees could visit different tables to learn about various faith systems and participate in cultural and tradition-based activities. Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and many other religious and spiritual believers came together to learn from and connect with one another.

Dr. Javier Clavere, dean of UIW’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS), also attended the event and shared remarks. He shared that his favorite part of the event was being able to approach each table and learn about the multiple faiths that are present within the San Antonio community.

Clavere believes that UIW’s involvement in this event perfectly reflected the University’s values and beliefs. Just as the University’s founding Sisters served everyone regardless of their religion, the University also seeks to educate and serve everyone regardless of their beliefs.

“We have a charism that we are supposed to enact, which is hospitality for everyone and inclusivity. That is who we are,” he explained.

Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI, professor emerita, agrees that the school’s historical values were reflected through this event.


“The very first public statement of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, Texas, was published in the newspaper,” she recalled. “We wrote on Dec. 1, 1869, that all persons ‘regardless of nationality or creed are welcome’ at Santa Rosa, the first public hospital in the city [founded by the Sisters]. Hoping to heal divisions and build bridges in 2024, we have been blessed with the opportunity on our campus to host the first city “Festival of Faiths.”

Though preparations for the Festival of Faiths began under Clavere during his time as interim director of the Pastoral Institute, he is ultimately prouder of the events’ success due to the leadership and contributions of the institute’s current director Dr. Michael Romero.  

“He was just outstanding,” he said of Romero’s leadership. “Attendees loved the event, and everything was just awesome.”

“We have received lots and lots of positive feedback from attendees,” shared Dr. Romero. “I know that UIW students attended many events, including the dialogue and display tables. I also received positive feedback personally from attendees of the panel I moderated on mysticism. Many were opened up to new ideas from other faiths and the entire event had a warmhearted and sincere sense of amicability about it.”