Monday, January 12, 2015


Write them on the doorposts of your house

The Interfaith Logo
All the Abrahamic religions hold the central tenet of loving God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. But a few verses further down in Deuteronomy 6 we are told, “Write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.” The Rabbis of old and Biblical interpreters have always been puzzled by exactly what “them” refers to.  In Jewish understanding, a tradition developed to actually write these verses on parchment and roll them up in a special small container and affix this container (mezuzah) to the doorposts of every Jewish home. As a Jew enters or leaves their home they traditionally reach up and kiss the mezuzah, a kind of aide-mémoire to always carry God in your heart.

On Tuesday, January 7th, the medical and educational clinic in Patanatic, Guatemala unveiled and dedicated a large logo of Xavier’s Center for Interfaith Community Engagement above the front entrance to a clinic the community built with its own hands. For five years our Xavier pre-med, nursing and occupational students have traveled to Patanatic to bring medicines and medical healing to a community that has become like home to each student and to the medical faculty and staff that have accompanied them.

The Dedication Ceremony
But this Tuesday was a day unlike any other. The Pastor of the church in the village and the Director of the elementary school joined Jorge Coromac, the Vice-President for Programs at Woodland Charities, in a ceremony to mark Xavier’s contribution to Patanatic. Each of them spoke of how the small Mayan village could never repay our teams for what they have done to bring quality and sustainable heath care to their homes. Nothing could be further from the truth – it is we who have benefited the most. It is our students who have grown through their labor of love and their love of labor. It is our American health care system that will ultimately benefit from the pre-med training that our students received. It is our university that has been most enriched by the maturation and growth of each of our young students. It is WE who owe the Village of Patanatic and the people of Guatemala so very much.

Yet, we stood proudly and watched as the drape was removed from the logo. I was privileged to offer a few words and I spoke of the blessing this clinic represents in the life of our university. We joined the community in dreaming a dream together and in bringing that dream to a reality. Lives in Guatemala have been saved; lives in America have been enriched and changed. If this moment represented the first time that Xavier University’s name has been formally affixed to a building outside the United States then we are additionally blessed.

The Official Unveiling
The image on the logo represents a bridge of understanding and celebration between Cincinnati and Patantic - the very celebration at the core of our Center’s mission.  But like the Jesuits of old, and St. Francis Xavier in particular, we climbed the mountain to reach our village and struggled with the language and culture. In our perseverance, and with the support of hundreds of benefactors and in the name of our great university, we lived to see this day - only imagined six years ago.

I think if we could look behind the image on the logo we would see the names of each of our students and each member of our medical team. They number more than sixty beautiful souls but in 2015 it was Ralph, Shannon, Ashley, Megan, Dakota, Adam P., Cooper, Greg, Farwa, Adam S., Caroline and Cathy; Lauri, Richard, Eric, Stephanie Ibemere and Stephanie Renny. Each one of them has been written on the doorposts of this beautiful medical house 6,204 feet above sea level. I was privileged to lead them to this place to allow them to demonstrate their love of God with all their heart, all their soul and all their might. If I could reach to touch them, I would kiss each one of them. I carry each of them in my heart.

Rabbi Abie

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