Fadi Abouelsaad, ’17, a student in the School of Theology and Ministry’s Transformational Leadership Program, is already changing the world. Abouelsaad co-founded “Point of Light,” an interfaith retreat for Muslims and Christians in his home country of Egypt to offer a safe space for shared spiritualty.
“We believe that in every human being and religion there is a light, a universal wisdom, and we want to share this wisdom with each other,” says Abouelsaad, who is also in formation to become a Jesuit. “We have been living with Muslims for centuries and we don’t know them and they don’t know us. We believe that this will lead us to the new humanity where we respect each other and we love each other.”
Point of Light is a three-day excursion, hosted in the desert or a retreat center. “We decorate the space together. It is like we are building our temple. We use a very neutral room and build together with candles and music to create our sacred space,” Abouelsaad says.
The retreat sidesteps religious dogma, delving straight into spirituality, which Abouelsaad says “is an opportunity for peace building, especially in the Middle East where there is so much religious turmoil.”
The experience transforms its participants, many of who continue its goodwill by hosting meals and meditations at their homes. Some participants admit they have not prayed for 10 years until this retreat and it served as an opportunity for them to reconcile with their faith, with God and with themselves.
“After the retreat, you realize you don’t know who was Muslim and who was Christian, but you were praying together and this is a wonderful feeling,” Abouelsaad says. “After you see these people together, it’s impossible to imagine them fighting over religion.”
Fadi’s vision for Point of Light is to continue his work and reach more people. “My hope is to build bridges between communities and share not only religions, but different cultures.”