By Marge Bitetti
SAN BERNARDINO—In reflection of the Thanksgiving holiday, members of several faith traditions gathered at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral in San Bernardino on Nov. 21 to share prayers, songs and words of gratitude to the creator, God.
Members of the San Bernardino Clergy Association came together to give thanks to God for the opportunity to live in a country where religious freedom can be celebrated in a collaborative setting. Father Duong Nguyen, S.V.D. Pastor/Rector of Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, extended a warm welcome to the religious leaders and congregation assembled. The Honorable Mayor R. Carey Davis of San Bernardino expressed his appreciation for the ability of the various faiths to come together in harmony to express thanks and gratitude.
Rev. Larry Hobby, R.Sc.P., from the Center for Spiritual Living, Inland Empire, shared spiritually uplifting songs of thanks and praise. Members of other religious faiths included: William Zeitler, Organist, First Presbyterian Church of San Bernardino; Father Manuel Cardoza, Pastor of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church; Ray Fukumoto, Universal Buddhist Education Foundation, Hacienda Heights; Imam Irshad Malhi, representing Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino; Rabbi Hillel Cohn and Rabbi Darryl Crystal from Congregation Emanu El; and Reverend Scottie Lloyd, Vice President of the San Bernardino Clergy Association and Pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church.
Fr. Cardoza gave a moving talk focused on the image of the cross.
“For the Catholic, the cross is an instrumental part of our faith, in listening to the words of Jesus, ‘If you wish to be my disciple, you must carry your cross.’ ”
Father Cardoza tied this meditation on suffering to recent tragedies that befallen the City of San Bernardino, chiefly the terrorist attacks of December 2, 2015 at the Inland Regional Center that claimed 14 lives.
“For over two years, we have striven to comfort the brokenhearted, to accompany the suffering, and to bring hope to a city that has seen too much pain, too much suffering, too much death,” he said. “We have offered prayers, condolences and accompaniment but we are called to do more, not allowing the memories of those murdered, those who are wounded to be forgotten, but to say, ‘enough!’ ”
Imam Irshad Malhi read words of peace thanks and gratitude from the Quran.
“We are admonished to seek help from Almighty God and be thankful to him. To be thankful to God it is important to be thankful to people. All praise belongs to God, the Creator of all the World.”
Ray Fukumoto, representing the Buddhist faith, had everyone present stand in silence with eyes closed and reflect on the possibility of peace as he read A Meditation for Peace, which was written by Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, OSB. Noted for his active participation in interfaith dialogue, Brother Steindl-Rast delivered this peace statement at the United Nations in October 1975.
“Let us stand with reverence on the common ground of the human quest for meaning with all who ever stood on this ground in their searching thought,” Fukumoto read, “in their celebration of beauty, in their dedicated service.”
As his reflection concluded he had everyone turn to the person standing next to them and offer a sign of peace.
Non-perishable food donations and monetary offerings were collected and will be shared with agencies that work in the community including: Mary’s Table, Central City Lutheran Mission, and the Sahaba Initiative.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving was read by Rabbi Crystal and Rabbi Cohn that thanked God for Creation, our joys, hopes, labor and liberties. The service concluded with everyone present joining their voices to sing “America, the Beautiful.” Following the prayer service refreshments were served in the parish hall.
Marge Bitetti is a freelance writer and a parishioner of St. Matthew in Corona.