Eboo Patel, eminent interfaith leader, to visit Saint Martin’s for public lecture

Lacey, Washington — Saint Martin’s University will welcome nationally recognized interfaith leader and author Eboo Patel, Ph.D. to campus Thursday, Oct. 3, as the distinguished speaker for the University’s inaugural Benedictine Institute Lecture. The new lecture series will explore issues of faith and community.

Eboo Patel

Patel’s presentation on Oct. 3 will take place at 7 p.m. in Saint Martin’s Marcus Pavilion, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey. Entry is free and open to the public.

Patel is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, an organization established to unite young people of different faith backgrounds around service and dialogue. It is powered by the belief that acts of meaningful service built around interfaith cooperation and understanding provide common ground for people of all belief traditions — religious and non-religious — and lead to a society characterized by mutual respect.

Patel has won recognition internationally, and in 2009, was named by US News & World Report as one of America’s best leaders. His speaking engagements have taken him before the Clinton Global Initiative and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, among others. He has served on President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and on the Department of Homeland Security’s Faith-based Advisory Council. Patel is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Wofford University’s 2013 Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humanity, and Hofstra University’s 2012 Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize for significant contributions to interfaith dialogue in pursuit of peace.

A Muslim born in India and raised outside of Chicago, Patel asserts that religion can be a unifying force — a conviction kindled by his childhood encounters with intolerance and prejudice. Patel’s confidence in society’s ability to embrace diversity rather than be torn apart by it was inspired by his studies of social justice advocates such as Mahatma Ghandi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Nelson Mandela.

Saint Martin’s Associate Dean of Students John Hopkins, whose Office of Intercultural Initiatives leads diversity and service efforts on campus, has been instrumental in identifying ways to integrate Patel’s concepts into the University’s long-standing Benedictine tradition. Patel’s upcoming visit is an initial step in this process, says Hopkins, who hopes to involve neighboring communities and congregations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“Dr. Patel’s model of interfaith understanding and cooperation resonates with the mission and values of Saint Martin’s, creating what I believe is a positive framework to teach and practice the University’s core themes of faith, reason, service and community,” Hopkins explains. “Through the model, students gain insights into their own religious identities and are given opportunities to engage other students from different faith traditions; students are brought together to work cooperatively in intentional sites of service; and students are asked to think critically about the world in which they live. All of this is done in the spirit of community.”

Patel, who has a doctorate in sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, is the author of two books: Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation and Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America. Acts of Faith, which tells the personal story of Patel’s awakening to awareness of his own faith tradition, social justice, and other social and spiritual issues, has been chosen by Saint Martin’s as the common book for its 2013-14 First-Year Seminar.

Saint Martin’s University is one of several colleges nationwide where Patel’s concepts are being put into practice. The lecture is presented by Saint Martin’s University, with special support from Saint Martin’s Office of Intercultural Initiatives, Office of Campus Ministry and Benedictine Identity Task Force.

To learn more, visit www.stmartin.edu/eboopatel.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Ann Adams
Associate Dean of Students
Director of Career Development
360-486-8842; aadams@stmartin.edu

Jennifer Fellinger
Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University
360-438-4332; jfellinger@stmartin.edu