Welcome Message from Dr. Mark C. Reed, President, Saint Joseph’s University

Dr. Mark C. Reed

50 Years of a Journey of Friendship: Remarks and Greetings Delivered on Friday, September 25, 2015

I arrived on campus on July 1st, and one of the first meetings I had was with Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Gregerman about this very event and about this ceremony and dedication and the remarks we are going to have here today. And I've been looking forward to it ever since.

I welcome my predecessor and Saint Joseph's University's 27th president, Fr. Kevin Gillespie. Thank you for joining us here today.

Welcome and Shalom, everyone. Thank you for being here.

Welcome to Bishop Joseph Martino from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Ms. Naomi Adler, from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and all of the dignitaries with us today.

Special welcome, of course, to Pope Francis’ good friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires. The relationship between these two religious scions reveals a vivid illustration of how our communities have come together. Welcome, Rabbi.

What a tremendous honor and privilege it is for Saint Joseph's University to host this celebration of the half-century anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Nostra Aetate!

The declaration brought about the dawn of a new era of friendship and understanding between Catholics and Jews after centuries of estrangement and stresses to the shared religious bond between Jews and Catholics.

Once the declaration was issued, the Jesuit community at Saint Joseph’s and the American Jewish Committee moved with great expediency to launch a "Jewish-Catholic Institute.”

Thus was conceived Saint Joseph University's Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations, the first such body at an American Catholic University in response to the Second Vatican Council. Under the leadership of the late Reverend Donald Clifford, of the Society of Jesus, the institute provided opportunities for Catholics and Jews to meet and learn about each other, a dialogue which grows broader and deeper with time.

Today, under the direction of Doctors Philip Cunningham and Adam Gregerman, the Institute supports research, conferences for scholars and community members, publications and opportunities for interreligious dialogue, including students, congregations and clergy.

Thank you, Doctors Cunningham and Gregerman for your great work, which is an integral initiative to the Catholic and Jesuit mission and identity of the University.

Today’s dedication of Joshua Koffman’s sculpture “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time” confirms our commitment and dedication to Nostra Aetate and the blessed rapprochement between Jews and Catholics that it began.

Thank you and shalom.