Posted: Sunday, August 2, 2015 10:15 pm | Updated: 9:23 am, Mon Aug 3, 2015.
NORWALK — In an effort to bridge the gap between what he calls “societal divisions,” Rev. Sudhir D’Souza of St. Philip Church has organized an interfaith prayer service and family festival designed to combine understanding and peace in an inclusive setting.
D’Souza reached out to local clergy of varying faiths with an invitation to come together and pray for peace at the Aug. 16 festival that will include prayer, food, traditional Indian dance, vendors and music.
“There is a lot of division in our society. While people in different religions have difference names for their god, there are seeds of wisdom in all cultures and traditions,” D’Souza said. “Every culture has something beautiful and we are coming together to celebrate our differences.”
Invited to the inter-faith service are: Swami Balgopal of Wilton Hindu Mandir temple; Pastor Jennifer Morrow of Rowayton United Methodist Church; Dr. J.S. Prasad of Norwalk Sai Group; Rabbi Ita Paskind of Congregation Beth El; Mohammed Ejaz Khan of the Norwalk Muslim community; and Head Granthi Jaikishan Singh of Norwalk Sikh Gurudwara.
“When I invited the various clergy, I mentioned coming together and praying for world peace,” D’Souza said. “This is an inclusive community event that involves people from different faiths in and around Norwalk where we will unite in a prayer for peace.”
The interfaith service coincides with the Independence Day of India-D’Souza’s native country.
D’Souza, who was born and raised in the Varanasi region of India, is no stranger to religious diversity.
“Where I lived was the center of Hinduism and my family is Catholic,” he said. “There was a lot of religious dialogue there.”
D’Souza, who had formerly been at St. Thomas and St. Matthew Churches in Norwalk, organized his first inter-faith service partially at the suggestion of a parishioner.
“A request was made by one of my parishioners in East Norwalk to have a prayer service for peace,” D’Souza said. “I said, let’s not restrict it to Christians, because there are many people who are being persecuted.”
The first interfaith prayer service was in 2008.
“We begin with an Eastern tradition by lighting a lamp,” D’Souza. “Each clergy member will read from their scripture as it relates to peace and brotherhood and will each have a short reflection.”
The Festival is hosted by “Kal-Pa-Vriksh-The Giving Tree,” a non-profit organization established by D’Souza dedicated to assisting the needy in India and the United States with healthcare, rehabilitation of the disabled and education.
“Everyone is welcome to join us and pray in whatever way they choose to pray,” D’Souza said.
Community Inter-Faith Prayer Service and Family Festival: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., St. Philip Church, 25 France St., Norwalk. Interfaith service begins at 3 p.m.
Potential vendors who would like to participate are asked to contact Rev. D’Souza at email@example.com or (203) 807-6891.