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All Faiths Defending Freedom and Human Rights

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The 2023 Parliament of World Religions was held from August 14-18, 2023 and returned to its birthplace in Chicago, Illinois. It is the the world’s premier interfaith convening of civic, spiritual, and grassroots changemakers. This year’s theme was “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights.”

Over 7,000 people from 95 countries and 210 traditions attended the event. Twelve members of the Mary Ward family from USA, Canada, Spain, Australia and Spain participated. It was a truly intergenerational group that included IBVMs, CJs, co-workers and two young people. The group shared the events that they were interested to attend and shared the information they gained from these. With hundreds of programs to choose from, it was not an easy task as they all looked very interesting.  

Together with Mary Ward Centre, Canada, we submitted and was accepted to host a program – Conversations that Matter: A Model of Youth Led Intergenerational Dialogue on Rights and Freedom. Moderated by three young people of diverse faith, they guided the participants of various ages in three conversation circles on the topics of the environment, democracy and mental health. The conversations were enriching and diverse with the circles returning to the full group and shared their key main points. Most people commented that they enjoyed the opportunity to dialogue with people from diverse background and ages. 

There were a number of keynote speakers from diverse faith including the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich and Marianne Williamson two of the several keynote speakers to address the issue of conscience during one of the plenary. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Dr. Jane Goodall and others sent video messages. Rev. Jesse Jackson, received a lifetime achievement recognition from the Parliament of the World’s Religions for his good works and championing human rights. 

It was a very full five days for all of us and yet we were energised by our experience. Cecilia O’Dwyer suggested that we share our experience with the IBVM/CJ network through a webinar. We gathered to discuss and organise a webinar on the last day. You can watch the webinar through this LINK.

AUTHOR: Janet Palafox ibvm

Photos: Main: Opening procession. Below: Participants at the program we hosted; Mary Ward Family participants meeting to plan the webinar; Janet Palafox ibvm as invited to be a speaker at one of the events; Rev. Jesse Jackson and family; Cynthia Mathew cj and Sarah Rudolph ibvm with Dr. Azza Karam; Arlene Ashack ibvm and Jean Okroi ibvm sharing a meal at the Sikh Langar; Janet Palafox at a photo booth, Natalie Houlihan ibvm with participants enjoying an Architectural cruise.

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