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All Faiths Celebrated at Annual Thanksgiving Service

Students fill altar with food donations

Students bring food donations to the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

Students, staff, faculty and community members were asked to turn off their technology and reflect on what makes them feel grateful at the University’s Thanksgiving Interfaith Prayer Service at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit Nov. 23.

Religious leaders representing various faiths came together to celebrate the holiday and remind everyone to be thankful. Before sharing psalms, readings, songs and reflections, students stacked boxes filled with non-perishable food items on the altar. The food was distributed at St. Charles Church in Bridgeport the following week to people in need.

“This is a day in which we can stop everything else and reflect,” said Larry Carroll, executive director of pastoral services. “Taking the time to reflect is one of the most challenging things. We’re all so busy.”

Mark Block, executive director of Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Bridgeport and a SHU alumnus, offered a reading, as did SHU’s Catholic chaplain, Fr. Bruce Roby. The University’s liturgical choir sang between readings.

The Rev. James Midgley of the United Methodist Church in Ansonia shared his thoughts, reminding everyone to look at what’s in front of them and be thankful. See their good health, he said, see the beauty of SHU’s campus, which has transformed greatly over the years, and think about reuniting with family soon.

“Grow a heart that’s filled with gratitude,” Midgley said. He mentioned the many benefits of having a grateful heart, such as better grades and healthier relationships. Midgley encouraged everyone to stay in “the moment” a little longer, to “sit in silence and thank those who gave you life. In this time, let us be truly grateful for all we’ve been given,” he said.

After Midgley’s remarks, Devon Kemp, campus minister, offered thanks as more food items were brought to the altar. Kemp then read a litany of gratitude for religions of the world with participation from the congregation. Chaplain Abdul Malik Negedu of the Muslim Endorsement Council of Connecticut read a prayer, followed by comments from Matthew Kaye, director of Volunteer Programs & Service Learning.

“We’re here today to reflect on our gratitude,” Kaye said. “This food represents our solidarity with our brothers and sisters of different faiths and traditions.” The University is committed to social justice, promoting good and serving others, Kaye added.

The interfaith service was sponsored by Campus Ministry and the Office of Volunteer Programs & Service Learning.