By Christina McDougall
Associate Campus Minister
In a country which can often seem more politically and culturally divided than it is unified, the Thanksgiving season serves as a timely reminder that we have much more in common with our neighbors than what separates us. To celebrate our diversity and uphold our shared commitment to justice, gratitude, and generosity, Archbishop Mitty High School (AMHS) students participated in an interfaith prayer service in November to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. The liturgical celebration consisted of readings and student reflections from the Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Catholic faith traditions accompanied by music from Exodus, Archbishop Mitty’s liturgical rock band. All students were asked to reflect on the question: How does your faith community use prayers, rituals and traditions to cultivate gratitude?
In reflecting on her Jewish faith, junior Heather Cherniss ’19 led the school community in the V’ahavta, a prayer which has helped her to create small moments of gratitude throughout her day. Senior Nickhil Tekwani ’18 shared how the Hindu belief of reincarnation inspires him to be thankful for those who have lived before us. Junior Suroor Nakhoda ’19 explained the significance of two important words in Islam: “shukr,” which means gratitude, and “alhamdulillah,” which means praise be to God, both of which have been meaningful in her faith life. Focusing on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, senior John Lahey ’18 spoke about his experience at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland in 2016, which helped him to grow in his understanding of mercy, forgiveness and gratitude in his Catholic faith. In between each reflection, the entire community joined Exodus in signing the refrain from Chris Tomlin’s song, “God of Wonders”:
“God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy…”
These lyrics underscore the significance of the liturgical celebration during the Thanksgiving season. Despite the differences in our religious traditions, we all share a common belief that all good gifts are from God, so we gather together to give thanks and praise. Regardless of the names we use to call upon God, our experiences of faith help us cultivate gratitude and ultimately, share it with others.