Our Welcoming Roots
From its founding in 1947, Merrimack College has enjoyed strong relations with the Jewish community of the Merrimack Valley.
The first president of the college, the Rev. Vincent McQuade, O.S.A., included members of the Jewish community in his efforts to found the institution. In 1993, Merrimack established the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations as a further step in strengthening Jewish-Christian relations and dialogue, as called for by the Second Vatican Council.
This important initiative, conceived and advanced by Padraic O’Hare, professor of religious and theological studies, has grown over the past 25 years to become an important part of the college’s academic and social landscape.
In 2008, with the encouragement of Rabbi Robert Goldstein of Temple Emanuel in Andover, Massachusetts, then chair of the center’s board of advisors, the center expanded its mission to include Muslims and became the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. The college has concentrated its interreligious dialogue to the “people of the book” as an extension of its Catholic mission and Augustinian heritage.
The center’s programs have nurtured a significant, appreciative community of Jewish, Christian and, more recently, Muslim friends of the college who have supported the operations of the center through their participation and generosity. Many faculty and administrators of the college, from each of the three Abrahamic religions, have participated in our programs.
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The center has encouraged Merrimack to realize its distinctive educational mission in ways that affirm the college’s Catholic identity and its Augustinian heritage, while at the same time welcoming other Christians and adherents of other faiths into the academic life of the campus and the embrace of our academic community. Our partners in presenting these programs and services have included:
- Algerian-American Association of New England
- Honorable Abdallah Baali, Algerian ambassador to the United States
- Brandeis University
- Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Salem State University
- Crossing Borders
- Facing History and Ourselves
- William and Mary Greve Foundation
- Interfaith Youth Initiative of Boston’s Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries
- Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
- Islamic Society of New England
- Catherine McCarthy Foundation
- Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation
- Temple Emanuel, Andover, Massachusetts
- Unity Productions Foundation
- University of Massachusetts, Lowell
The center’s programs and services have covered topics in religious, political, cultural and social arenas. The world and those who work for peace face new challenges. They prompt us to re-envision the center’s mission and to seize emerging opportunities to accomplish our goals.