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Muslims, Catholics discuss commonalities during Maryam Meal

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 -- The Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) and the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission (EIC) co-hosted the Muslim and Catholic Maryam Meal for approximately 100 guests at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne. The dinner focused on two topics: Mary as a common figure to both Catholicism and Islam, and the contributions of Islam and Catholicism to society and culture.

The choice of date was especially meaningful as 25 March marks the Feast of the Annunciation for Catholics, and 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the 1965 Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.

Welcoming remarks were given by the Very Rev Fr Denis Stanley, EIC chair and Episcopal Vicar of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, and Ahmet Keskin, executive director of AIS.

Keynote speakers included Sr Dr Mary Reaburn, NDS, lecturer in Biblical Studies at Yarra Theological Union and member of EIC, as well as Dr Zuleyha Keskin, course coordinator and lecturer at Charles Sturt University.

Other speakers included Bishop Mark Edwards OMI, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, who led the prayer for God's blessing on the meal; Sheikh Riad Galil, imam of West Heidelberg Mosque, who recited from the chapter of the Qur'an titled Maryam (19:16-22); and Martin Chatfield, member of the Catholic Interfaith Committee, who recited from the second chapter of the Holy Gospel: the Gospel according to St Luke.

These discussions highlighted how both the Islamic and Catholic traditions honour Mary as an excellent role model for men and women alike.

To complement the talks, two videos were shown. The first video, produced by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and titled Contributions of the Catholic Church to Society and Culture, demonstrated Catholicism's impact on multiple aspects of society, such as family structure, music, art and architecture. The second video, 1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets, considered the scientific heritage of Muslim civilisation from the perspective of several schoolchildren. 

The meal concluded with a discussion of the evening's themes.

AIS would especially like to thank EIC Executive Officer David Schütz for all his efforts in organising this event.


Aussie Premiere of "Love is a Verb" Takes Place in Melbourne

On Tuesday 9 December 2014, AIS hosted the Australian premiere of the documentary Love is a Verb. The screening was held at Palace Cinema Como, featuring a Q&A session with director Terry Spencer Hesser and producer Hakan Berberoglu. Professor Rae Frances, dean of the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, gave the opening remarks, and George Donikian was the MC.

Love Is A Verb is an examination of a social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that began in Turkey in the 1960s and now reaches across the globe. The group is called Hizmet (the Turkish word for service) or the Gulen Movement after its inspiration, leader and beloved teacher Fethullah Gulen, a man that Time Magazine named as one of the most influential leaders in the world in 2013.

Here is how the filmmakers describe their work:

"Through co-operation with the people inspired by Gulen, we had unprecedented access to the ideas and actions of the movement around the world. We met teachers who crawled through a tunnel to open a school in Sarajevo during the war and the students whose lives they changed. We met a Sufi conductor whose orchestra is composed of children whose parents were once at war. We got a glimpse of the interfaith work the movement provides in Turkey, including a visit to Rumi’s exquisite shrine. We went to their schools in Turkey, in Somalia, in Iraq. We meet a Kurdish teacher in Iraq who credits everything she is to her former Turkish teachers who stayed during the bombings, and a Kurdish woman who had also gone to one of the Turkish schools in Iraq and is now working as an engineer to bring water to the desert. Finally, in Somalia we followed two Turkish doctors putting their lives at risk in a place that other relief organizations have deemed too dangerous, a place where they sleep under armed guard."

Upcoming Events

Tue Apr 07, 2015 @12:00PM - 01:30PM
Luncheon with Deborah Glass
Sat Apr 18, 2015 @12:00AM
BBQs and Brekkies
Sun Jun 07, 2015 @12:00AM
International Festival of Language and Culture
Mon Jun 22, 2015 @12:00AM
2015 Victorian State Parliament Iftar Dinner
Wed Jul 08, 2015 @12:00AM
Balkan Communities Iftar Dinner [Date TBA]
Sat Aug 01, 2015 @12:00AM
August Luncheon with Ged Kearney [date TBA]
Wed Oct 28, 2015 @12:00AM
Australia-Turkey Dialogue Platform [date TBA]

Past Events, Photos and Videos

Wed Mar 25, 2015 @ 6:30PM - 09:30PM
Muslim and Catholic Maryam Meal
Wed Dec 17, 2014 @ 7:00PM -
Whirling Dervishes 2014
Tue Dec 09, 2014 @ 6:00PM - 08:30PM
"Love is a Verb" Documentary
Sat Dec 06, 2014 @ 5:00PM - 07:00PM
2014 Anatolian Culture and Arts Festival VIP Program
Tue Nov 25, 2014 @10:30AM - 11:45AM
Morning Tea with Greg Barton and Mehmet Ozalp
Sat Nov 01, 2014 @10:00AM -
AIS Moves to a New Address
Wed Oct 15, 2014 @11:45AM - 01:45PM
Luncheon with Adam Bandt, Australian Greens Deputy Leader
Sat Sep 20, 2014 @12:00AM
Timeless Cities Study Tour to Turkey 2014
Mon Aug 25, 2014 @11:45AM - 01:45PM
Luncheon with the Lord Mayor of Melbourne

Intercultural Study Tours

The AIS is organising several projects for 2014 and 2015 which include a ANZAC Spirit Study Tour. For more information on Study Tour registration and itinerary, please contact the AIS. Read more...

Ramadan Iftars

Iftar dinner programs will commence with the beginning of Ramadan. Read more...

Luncheon Forums

Luncheon forums are designed to cultivate friendship, celebrate multiculturalism, promote dialogue, social harmony and social inclusiveness and deepen intercultural awareness among the many diverse cultures of Australia. Read more...


Australian Intercultural Society organises several intercultural conferences aimed to benefit relationships between different communities. Read more...

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