Chaplains’ Corner: Interfaith Month at Williams

Valerie Bailey

Religion is a complicated space; it is a place of healing and solace for some, and for others, it has also been a place of pain and discomfort. The College offers a unique opportunity to explore this complex space by allowing students to participate in programs by the different religious and spiritual life groups. Whether you are exploring your own faith, visiting a faith experience for the first time, or even revisiting a challenging religious space from your past, April is an opportunity to expand your understanding of the religious landscape in our pluralistic society through interfaith month at the College. These groups are student-led, supported and advised by the chaplains, and can serve as intentional searches for meaning and community building while balancing ancient and modern faith traditions in our efforts to uphold human dignity and to grow in our understanding of each other.

April was chosen as Interfaith Month because it is a time when many individuals from different religious communities celebrate key elements of their respective faiths. For example, Muslims are observing Ramadan, Jews are celebrating Passover, and Christians have been in the season of Lent since March 2, ending with Holy Week starting with the observation of Palm Sunday and continuing with numerous services throughout the week until Easter Sunday. At the College, Hindus are celebrating Holi, which fell on March 18, this weekend on Saturday, April 16. The Sikh community is also celebrating Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year Festival.

The keynote speaker for Interfaith Month is Monsignor Guy Massie. Monsignor Massie is a Catholic priest involved in many interfaith activities in the New York City area. 

This visit is being hosted by the Williams Catholic and the Williams College Jewish Associations and Chaplains Bridget Power and Rabbi Seth Wax. Monsignor Massie’s visit includes a Shabbat Passover Service on Friday, April 22 followed by Shabbat Dinner. Monsignor Massie will also speak on the topic “Jewish Catholic Dialogue in an Uncertain World,” Saturday, April 23 at the Jewish Religious Center (JRC) and preach and celebrate Catholic Mass in Thompson Memorial Chapel (TMC) on Sunday, April 24.

Most of the events during this month include regular services and a few special services. Please come and explore various religious expressions.

The Chaplains’ offers April as Interfaith Month as an opportunity for a unique conversation where religious and not religious people alike are invited to participate and explore faith-based communities at the College. Conversations about new ideas and experiences are the ones that give us insight, not only about other people, but ourselves. We invite you into these conversations. 

And for those who find religion to be a complicated space and would like to speak to one of the chaplains, please email or call us. We want to hear from you and learn about your thoughts and experiences. These complex voices are important in interfaith dialogue. These exchanges across religious differences are more authentic when people are respecting each other’s dignity and listening to each other’s stories. Respecting each other and listening to each other is essential for building authentic community, regardless of whether or not you have a faith tradition.

Please visit our Interfaith Month schedule on our website, 

The Reverend Valerie Bailey Fischer is Chaplain to the College and Protestant Chaplain.