The Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations

Did you know that the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations (CCCMR) is a neighbour of IFM? We share spaces in the same building, as well as the occasional morning tea and barbecue. More importantly, we both share the call to mission in the Diocese of Parramatta, each in our own way.

CCCMR is an apostolic Centre of St Columbans Mission Society. Our team consists of:

  • Patrick McInerney, Columban priest and Director of the Centre

  • Ryan Epondulan, Youth & Networking Coordinator

  • Kim Chong, Media & Community Liaison

The teaching of the Catholic Church motivates and inspires us to reach out to Muslims in dialogue and friendship. Our work at CCCMR is to model and facilitate strong Christian-Muslim relations, but this extends to believers of many other religions, too. Located in Blacktown since 2017, we aim to promote interfaith relations especially in the Diocese of Parramatta. We will try to facilitate dialogue and friendship at grassroots level, between priests and imams and between parish and mosque congregations.

Personal encounter is crucial for growing friendly relations between Christians and Muslims, so we attend a variety of religious, educational, social and cultural events hosted by Muslim individuals and organisations. By attending Muslim and interfaith events, we are a presence of the Catholic Church, the sacrament and sign of Jesus Christ and of the unity of all humankind. In doing so, we witness to a more positive, respectful, welcoming and friendly image of the church in accord with the contemporary understanding of mission.

We help to overcome negative prejudices and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims by providing accurate information in talks, in publications such as our newsletter, Bridges, and on social media. In doing so, we are contributing to the common good by fostering social cohesion in multicultural, multi-faith Australia.

We organise interfaith events such as the Abraham Conference, often in partnership with other religious organisations, where Christians, Jews and Muslims (and believers from all religions) can meet, dialogue and get to know one another.

We also host Australia’s largest interfaith event for youth, Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World’s Religions). In 2019, more than 200 youth representing different religions gathered over four Youth PoWR events throughout the north, south, east and west of Sydney.

This year we started our largest interfaith initiative to date, The Sydney Statement (TSS). This will consist of a list of interfaith actions to help build bridges between believers of different religions. Youth PoWR is leading this project by providing the content for the Statement. It will be published on a dedicated website, where people from all faiths and world views can commit to the interfaith actions named in the Statement. This two-year project is funded by Multicultural NSW, underwritten by St Columbans Mission Society, developed in partnership with Western Sydney University, and overseen by a multi-faith team of representatives from different religions.

I look forward to sharing with you our journey in promoting interfaith dialogue through this blog. I begin with a foundational teaching of theology and what this means for our call to mission in the following post.

Fr Patrick McInerney