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News from Shem Center For Interfaith Spirituality

The Making of “We Are The World” Documented in “The Greatest Night In Pop”

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | March 4, 2024

On January 28, 1985, some of America’s top-selling pop musicians including Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Bob Dylan and Ray Charles arrived at the A&M Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA and recorded “USA For Africa – We Are The World.”

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We Have Family in Ukraine

Letter From Ukraine, February 20, 2024

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | February 29, 2024

After the morning Mass, I asked the Missionaries of Charity Sisters how they look at the future. “I was thinking about that a couple of times,” said Sister Immaculata. “But the only response that comes to mind is to trust God every day and do what we can. Love Him and love our neighbor. And live. He knows best what is awaiting us and what is good for us.”

We’ve reached the second anniversary of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, although perhaps it would be more correct for me to write that it is the tenth year of war. Everything started in 2014 with the Russian occupation of Crimea and the fighting in the Donbas. A couple of months earlier, the Revolution of Dignity had begun, which saw President Viktor Yanukovych removed from office. Millions of Ukrainians had gathered for demonstrations to show that they wanted to bind their future with the free and democratic Europe.

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Bob Sima

Bob Sima Music — Healing Hearts through Healing Arts

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | November 27, 2023

Bob Sima (pronounced sEYE-ma) is to music what Wayne Dyer, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Eckhart Tolle are to books and Rumi, Hafiz, and David Whyte are to poetry. He is an award-winning singer-songwriter, spiritual teacher, and musical mystic who has been called Eckhart Tolle with a guitar. With no musical training, he has creatively channeled award winning albums and built a national following. The music that comes through him will vibrate with your spirit exactly where you are. 

He is a troubadour, a way-shower, a guide, an awakener, and a musical mystic through the medium of melody. His music bridges daily life and soul consciousness, the eternal with the now through instantly accessible songs that take up residence and resonance in your soul.

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We Have Family in Ukraine

Letter From Ukraine, November 13, 2023

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | November 20, 2023

When I wrote my previous letter from Ukraine at the beginning of August, no one expected that the world would soon be watching with surprise and pain the events of another war. This time, war in the territory of the state of Israel in the Gaza Strip. The media bore the information about thousands of dead and wounded civilians, including women and children, along with the drama of kidnapped hostages. The horror of the military conflict is repeating itself before our eyes in such a short amount of time. The war in Ukraine that’s been dragging on month after month is no longer an interesting subject for many around the world, and news from the Dnipro River rarely appears on the front pages of the world’s media. Even in Ukraine you can pick up on a certain level of exhaustion, sometimes accompanied by irritation and anger. But despite 627 long days of war drama, I still cannot detect any attitude of resignation, apathy, or surrender — maybe because we’re all aware that the stakes in this war are very high, and its conclusion will shape the future of the Ukrainian nation.

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Fr. Brian John Zuelke, O.P.

Fr. Brian John Zuelke, O.P. combines sacred texts and popular music in ÆTERNUM

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | November 7, 2023

ÆTERNUM is a nomadic experimental music project organized by Fr. Brian John Zuelke, O.P., a Dominican priest friar of the Province of St. Albert the Great. With a Minnesota-grown group of musicians, ÆTERNUM hopes to slowly build up a collection of excellent mash-ups between sacred texts and popular music forms.

ÆTERNUM began as a nagging dream of Fr. Brian’s while in formation to be a religious priest in Saint Louis, MO. Ideas would come to his mind overlaying sounds of his past love of loud, beautiful rock music with his later love of the sacred music traditions of medieval Christianity. But what to do about it?

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Israel-Hamas War

Official Statement of the Parliament of the World’s Religions on the Israel-Hamas War

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | October 21, 2023

The Board of Trustees of the Parliament of the World’s Religions—after much thought, prayer and heartfelt deliberation, realizing the complex and critical situation at hand—issues the following non-unanimous statement:

In the midst of the Israel-Hamas War, the Parliament of the World’s Religions prays for those suffering. We acknowledge the right of a people to self-defense within the bounds of international law and call for the release of all hostages and the cessation of hostilities. We call for the norms of international humanitarian law to be respected by all parties as they seek to resolve this escalating war through peaceful dialogue and negotiation.

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Khizr Khan

Khizr Khan comes forward to say Trump is incapable of leading the US again

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | October 6, 2023

Khizr Khan said about Trump, “A person who has never sacrificed is incapable of love: love of country, love of purpose, love of fellow human beings. Trump is nothing but appetite and ego. Trump is incapable of leading the U.S. again. I wish to pay tribute to General John Francis Kelly and his family. General Kelly is a gold star father as well. We stand with you and are saddened to hear the remarks that Trump made in the White House and after his presidency.”

Khizr Khah is a gold star father, having lost his son Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan in 2004. Humayun was a United States Army officer who was killed by a suicide attack near Baqubah, Iraq during the Iraq War. He came to national attention in the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign as an example of a Muslim American soldier who died in service to the U.S. military.

Watch his interview on MSNBC.

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We Have Family in Ukraine

Letter From Ukraine, August 7, 2023

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | August 8, 2023

Dear Sisters, Dear Brothers,

The phones are the first to go off. Almost every Ukrainian has an app installed on his smartphone informing us about the alarms in progress. A few seconds later, the sirens start shrieking. On Saturday this happened three different times, the last one during the evening Mass that I celebrated in the chapel of the Kyiv priory. We’ve gotten used to it, so there’s no panic, no nervousness, like there was at the beginning of the war. I doubt, however, whether anyone is capable of accepting the recurring alarms with complete calm. Especially at night, when the Russian drones and rockets fly over most often. I have to admit that for over a year and a half, almost every morning I have been starting off with checking the news, even when I’m not in Ukraine and don’t have sirens waking me up in the middle of the night.

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We Have Family in Ukraine

Letter From Ukraine, May 18, 2023

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | May 23, 2023

Dear sisters, dear brothers,

May nights in Kyiv are unusually restless this year. Especially the one between Monday and Tuesday. The noise made by the defenders of the Ukrainian sky as they shot at Russian rockets and drones was accompanied by car alarms. While the earth was shaking and the sky was pulsating with repeated explosions, they were going on and off maddeningly. It would be hard to find anyone in Kyiv who wasn’t up around 3am that morning. Mrs. Katia who cooks in our priory joined her neighbors in the staircase, searching for a safe place. In the building where she lives, the people were scared because during the first months of the war rockets had fallen there multiple times, and their windows had lost their glass panes. Now every shelling of the city causes them even more worry.

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We Have Family in Ukraine

Letter From Ukraine, April 3, 2023

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | April 5, 2023

Dear Sisters, Dear Brothers,

There is a painted icon of Our Lady Orans of Kyiv on the wall of a street bomb shelter in Kherson. These small, safe shelters made out of cement, located at bus stops, are called “hideouts” in Ukrainian. The original of the icon is found in a mosaic on the dome of the Sophia Sobor, one of the oldest and most important churches in Kyiv. Mary, raising both hands to heaven in a gesture signifying constant prayer, complete surrender to God, and subjection to his will, has become for us in these days a “hideout.” The image remind the inhabitants of the capital, as well as the inhabitants of the relentlessly shelled city of Kherson, of the words that begin the prayer of the Akathist, which is very popular in the Eastern tradition: “O Valiant Queen of the Heavenly Hosts, who has invincible power, save us from all miseries!”

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Rev. Al Sharpton Eulogy for Tyre Nichols

Rev. Al Sharpton’s Eulogy for Tyre Nichols

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | February 10, 2023

Rev. Al Sharpton’s words echo what is already in our hearts. He spoke not to us but for us as we again gathered to bury one loved by family and friends, another victim of injustice. We listen to his words of compassion, solidarity and love, words that call for change, words that call for a response to injustice. Listen, and allow his eulogy for Tyre Nichols at his funeral in Memphis to resonate what we  know what must be done.

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It’s Time to Pay Attention to the Health of Palestinians

By Joseph Kilikevice O.P. | January 3, 2023

By Yara M. Asi

Ms. Asi is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Global Health Management and Informatics.

As published in The New York Times, December 29, 2022.

As a Researcher, I study the health of Palestinians. The blockade of my hometown, Nablus, this past October devastated the Palestinian community there in ways that are hard to measure.

This year, during the lead-up to the Israeli elections, I returned to my hometown, Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, to work on a research project and spend time with my family there.

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