USD community cares for their common home: Members of USD celebrate the 23rd Annual All Faith Service

Photo Courtesy by Nick Kowalski

Photo Courtesy by Nick Kowalski


“Our common home, this beautiful earth we share. Our common home, may we tend to its care,” was sung throughout  the Shiley Theatre at the 23rd Annual All Faith Service. Students, faculty, and leaders of various faith communities gathered together in prayer to celebrate an essential component of Catholic identity and recognition of individual religious traditions within the community.

This year’s theme, Care for Our Common Home, was inspired by the recent letter from Pope Francis that called for universal concern and reverence for the integrity of creation. Leaders from the Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American religious communities shared their unique rituals in recognition of nature.

Senior Kevin Karn, who recited the prayer intercession for Christianity, shares what this annual tradition at USD means to him.

“I think it is critical to be fluent in multiple traditions because even though we go to a school with a diverse group of individuals, we do have a lot in common,” Karn said. “Understanding these commonalities around central themes, like nature, is a great way for people to focus on the unity of the different faith traditions rather than their differences.”

Karn’s past attendance fostered his appreciation for the ceremony and the various rituals performed.

“Being able to read on stage with people from different backgrounds was a unique experience,” Karn said. “Being involved in University Ministry and having the opportunity to represent a portion of the student body was something that I definitely appreciated. I think the Buddhist meditation was very quiet and focused; it was a cool experience. You could feel the energy of the room without looking at anyone else and just focusing on the words being said.”

The opening of the ceremony included a procession of 26 flags from different countries, demonstrating the diversity of religious practices in many parts of the world. As stated in the All Faith Service pamphlet, “Though faiths are different, care for creation is a means to show our solidarity with one another.”

Sophomore Grant Gilbreth attended the event and shared his experience.

“The Buddhist meditation read by Dr. Tsomo was the most interesting because it was a very spiritual experience and a little bit more unorthodox than the others,” Gilbreth said. “However, I found learning about the intricacy of Jewish traditions to be supplementary in understanding many of the other presentations. The type of culture and structure that we have developed in modernity has disregarded our value of simple things like nature, our consumption of resources, and our overall intention to care for the home we inhabit.”

This is Gilbreth’s second year attending the service and has much gratitude for on-campus events like this that expose students to a multiplicity of perspectives and traditions.

“As a Christian, going to this service is a reminder of the innumerable ways people come to know God,” Gilbreth said. “With that said, you recieve this sense of humility you get from the different performances and rituals.  You come to the table in your own way seeking truth and to see it lived in so many different ways it is a reminder that you are not in the center of it all— God is.”

USD audience members were captivated by the rituals of each religion represented that day, showing reverence toward the sacredness of the individual rituals and the care for creation. The event was a memorable ceremony in which individuals were able to appreciate and respect those traditions of communities outside their own.