The new Director of Spiritual Life Monica Corsaro, hosts a weekly Religious-I-Tea (pronounced “religiosity”) event every Wednesday and an Interfaith Potluck every Sunday in order to bring groups of different faiths together on campus.
“The idea of Religious-I-Teas is for a safe place for students to talk and come together and talk about a difficult topic from their faith perspectives,” said Corsaro. “Or, if they’re not from a faith, be able to ask, ‘what would the teaching from that faith be?’”
Corsaro joined Knox College in May after working at two other college campuses. She is ordained in the United Methodist Church and learned about other faiths as a part of her degree in divinity. Corsaro’s experience as Director of Spiritual Life made her want to provide a safe environment for students of various faiths and guide discussions to reach a common ground.
“My job is to make sure that everyone gets access to their practice,” said Corsaro. “So the more conversations we can have in an interfaith space or in a safe interfaith gathering, the more we can support each other so that everyone gets access to their practice because there’s going to be more of an understanding. So when you have the Christian defending the Muslim, I think that’s a good day.”
The two weekly events provide opportunities for students to ask questions and learn about others. Corsaro envisions that the Sunday potlucks, which take place in the Center for Intercultural Life, will cover simpler topics, while the Wednesday Religious-I-Teas in the Gizmo, will focus more on how people of faith ought to handle various political and sensitive issues.
“On Sundays we’ll maybe cover questions of practice,” said Corsaro. “So for instance: grace. Christians say grace before a meal and one of the Muslim students asked about it. The Religious-I-Teas are more like: ‘okay, what do we as people of faith say about something like DACA? What about race, class, or gender?’”
Sophomore Shayan Nadeem, the President of the Islamic Club, spoke about the importance of Spiritual Life on campus and its role in bringing people of different faiths together.
“Last year when I was a first year, I wasn’t that into spiritual life. I saw that people were very divided,” Nadeem said. “Let’s say I’m Muslim, people were not that close to me. I don’t know how to explain it, but there was this division between religions on campus. I didn’t know who the Christians were, I didn’t know what the Interfaith community was. Now, I know all the people. Now I’m like, ‘He’s a Christian. He came to my event and they helped me out.’ It’s a string that keeps us connected.”
Corsaro says that along with bringing groups together, her goal is to help students better understand their own beliefs.
“As we learn about someone else, then we learn more about ourselves and about what we believe in,” Corsaro said. “The question isn’t what church you go to but what do you believe. The goal is to know what you believe and why you believe it.”