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Interfaith peace rally is Nov. 19 in New Orleans

“Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding,” Albert Einstein once said. Commitment to peace through understanding is the goal for the first Interfaith Voices for Peace rally on Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 6367 St. Charles Ave., in New Orleans.

Sponsored by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Atlas Foundation, and Loyola University, representatives from Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Baha’i, Buddhism, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe of South Louisiana, and others, are expected at the free event.

The Rev. Emile “Buddy” Noel, ecumenical and inter-religious officer of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said that unrest around the world compelled him to first work toward a solution. As a coalition came together, the rally was the result.

“Peace does not come by walking paths separately and not being aware of the paths others are walking,” Noel said. “We have to respect all people.”

Featured will be visual symbols of unity including prayers, songs and chants from the various faith traditions, along with a candlelight service.

Publicity material for the event calls for “Peace in our hearts; peace in our streets; peace in our world.” All are invited and a preliminary gathering will begin outside the church at 6:15 p.m.

Cathie Eustis, a founding member of Atlas Foundation, an interfaith organization for education, dialogue and service to others, said the event will focus on similarities rather than differences between the faiths.

Eustis, an English as a Second Language teacher whose work with Turkish-Americans facilitated her visit to Turkey shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack, said the event spurred her on to join with others in establishing the Atlas Foundation.

“Through respecting our differences, we can all work together,” Eustis said. “Just because we’re different doesn’t mean we can’t work toward the same goal.

Since the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago, the Catholic Church has committed to dialogue with those of other faiths to promote and preserve spiritual and moral values that are commendable, Noel said.

Noel pointed to the 1965 Vatican II declaration regarding non-Christian belief systems that states that all religions seek “to counter the restlessness of the human heart.”

The declaration states: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all people.”

Noel said fruitful dialogues with different religious traditions have resulted. Noel attended a peace prayer meeting in the Vatican garden following Pope Francis’ visit to Israel. Conducted in Hebrew and in Arabic, Noel said, “The beauty of it struck me.”

All good things are commendable and Catholics believe the source of all good is the Holy Spirit, Noel said. “God inspires all people and draws all people to himself,” Noel said.

Initially scheduled to be held outside at the Marquette Hall horseshoe, the peace rally was moved inside the church due to a growing response, said Natalie Noel, event coordinating producer, film producer, talent manager, and cousin to the Rev. Noel.

“We are all one family, on one tiny planet, under one God,” Natalie Noel said. “So basically, we are throwing a big party to get to know our brothers and sisters.”

Marilyn Stewart writes about people and events of the faith community in Orleans Parish. Send information three weeks in advance to

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