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Honoring Passover in Lodi

After the evening meal on Holy Thursday in Lodi, NJ, sisters and guests sang, “Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found.” The spirit of unity expressed in this hymn directly addresses the complicated merging of Jewish and Catholic cultures in the Passover and Holy Thursday celebrations. 

Central to Jewish life and history, Passover commemorates the story told in Exodus of the Israelistes’ deliverance from their bondage in Egypt. A celebration of Jewish liberation, it includes ritual foods and stories that pass on the central events of Jewish history to future generations.

With the intention of embracing other cultures and people, with profound respect for Jewish tradition, and with real Felician joy, the Lodi sisters created an observance that included an educational component and expressed reverence for traditions shared by both Jewish and Christian people.

Several lay employees of the convent, including a dietician who is Jewish, celebrated with the sisters. Helen Yee, the Health Services Administrator at Immaculate Conception Convent, has hosted many Seder meals in her own home, but this year she was the sisters’ guest. She appreciates that the convent dinner included the essentials: prayers, singing, food, wine, and toasting. “I love Passover,” says Yee. “To celebrate time together as a community, to recognize our history, and to realize the promise of spring.”

Sr. Mary Virginia Tomasiak understands that events like this one can help to forge interfaith bonds and overcome anti-semitism. “We have to discover the other person,” she says. “In order to become closer to our Jewish brethren, we need to understand their religion. Listening to and learning from one another leads to compassion.”

The concluding prayer included the line, “We need each other, for our lives would not make sense without each other.” Sr. Virginia says, “The more that we learn about one another, the greater respect we will have for one another.” That kind of charity and love, based in Felician core values, can transform the world.

At neighboring Felician University, the Blessed Mary Angela Institute for Contemplation, Action, and Transformation responds to the concerns and needs of the Church and society through contemplative dialogue, which leads to a deeper reflective understanding that guides practical action, resulting in transformation of the person and society.

Watch their recent Interreligious panel discussion on Felician compassion »

Learn more about how Felician core values influence our sisters’ ministries and actions »