A Parliament Ambassador in Chicago

Parliament Ambassador Susan M. Pudelek is an active member of the interfaith community in the Chicago area. Check out some of the events she participated and attended recently!

A Parliament Ambassador in Chicago

By Susan M. Pudelek

Interreligious partnerships and collaborations are thriving in Chicago. Monthly meetings continue with our Buddhist Catholic Dialogue Chicago group, which first came together through our visit with Pope Francis in June 2015. As part of a larger group of 46 Buddhist and Catholics from five U.S. cities, Pope Francis called us 'seeds of peace' and encouraged us to continue to meet in our home cities and decide together what we can do to address social ills in our locations. Conversations with our seven Chicago members since our return have revealed a desire to address the violence, isolation and inequality in our city.  To date, together we’ve participated in several public events to raise our voices for peace.

On April 2, we met at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago in Uptown, led by Rev. Patti Nakai, for a program called “What Does That Have to Do with Me?” – a look at how our peace and well-being is intimately connected with the suffering of all people. This was a pre-event for our panel’s participation in - Awaken Chicago: The Power of All People. Together. (April 29 – May 1, 2016).

On April 16, we met at the Midwest Buddhist Temple in Old Town, led by Rev. Ron Miyamura, for an ‘Interfaith Buddhist Catholic Dialogue,’ a public discussion about our meeting with Pope Francis and our week-long dialogue at the Vatican on “Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity.”

Awaken Chicago was a pivotal weekend event (held at Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago) within a movement to change the conditions causing violence, isolation, and inequality in Chicago. It was the beginning of new partnerships and new hope for our troubled city, connecting people across divides of culture, race, social class, education and religion. Over 500 people attended including major speakers from multiple Buddhist, Christian and other religious traditions including The Sakong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche and Pema Chödrön.

Our Buddhist Catholic Dialogue group was represented with two workshops –

April 30

What Does this Have to do with Me? The Interconnectedness of People -Focusing on how our peace and well-being is intimately connected to the suffering of people we consider to be separate from us.

Photo 1-  Awaken Chicago Buddhist Catholic Panel

 Awaken Chicago Buddhist Catholic Panel

May 1

Deep Listening: Being a Loving and Healing Presence - Cultivating silence and slowing down to reflect allows us to reflect and to become a loving and compassionate presence.

Photo 2- Parliament Ambassador Susan Pudelek and David Stone, Shambhala Meditation Center

Photo 3- Deep Listening Workshop -Co-Op Bookstore in Hyde Park

The Shambhala Meditation Center of Chicago hosted this event in partnership with over 50 local Chicago organizations (including The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii where I am director of pilgrimage ministry) representing education, health care, community peace-building initiatives, government programs against handguns, violence, and domestic abuse, homelessness, youth leadership development, social services, higher education, youth and at-risk populations, artistic expressions and spiritual perspectives and practices from multiple Buddhist, Christian (Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant and others) and Islamic traditions.

The work of Awaken Chicago partners continues to move forward from this initial event. Please see our website at http://awakenchicago.org/  The Buddhist Catholic Dialogue Chicago group continues to meet monthly, developing friendships and discerning our next steps in healing our community.

On May 14, the 31st Annual International Buddhist Festival, sponsored by the Buddhist Council of the Midwest, took place.  PWR Trustee Dr. Rahul Deepankar, PWR Trustee Emerti Mazher Ahmed and Asayo Horibe, and participated on an interreligious panel at the annual celebration of Visakha, held at two locations in Uptown, Wat Phrasriratanamahadhatu’s Dhammasala and the Buddhist Temple of Chicago. Organized by Asayo Horibe of Heartland Sangha, it included meditation sessions, workshops, ceremonies and cultural performances.  It was an extraordinary day of deep insight, friendship and great food!

Photo 3– Speakers including Mazher Ahmed, Asayo Horibe, Susan Pudelek, Rahul Deepankar




Raising our hearts and our voices together for compassion and peace, an extraordinary encounter among prayerful people of five religions took place on November 6, 2016, at The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago. Together with our partner, Harran Productions Foundation, we created - The Compassionate Heart: Sounds of Faith, Music, Poetry and Prayers for Peace.  Crossing the threshold from everyday moments, more than 80 people gathered to pray. While we may not pray the same prayer together, together we prayed, in our own languages and traditions. Our deep gratitude to these joyful, prayerful participants of 5 religions  - Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. It was a beautiful, extraordinary and inspiring afternoon. Grazie mille! 

This program was made possible in cooperation with: Archdiocese of Chicago Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Midwest Buddhist Temple, Sikh Religious Society and Emanuel Congregation.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
  - St. Teresa of Calcutta




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The ambassadors selected are: Jayesh Shah, advisor, Vakpati Foundation, and Research Associate with Centre for Culture and Development, Vadodra, Gujarat; Sudhir Lodha, member, State Minority Commission, Tamil Nadu; Ambili Ramnath (Trivendrum), member in Advisory Council for Ambassadors, Council for Parliament of World’s Religions, Chicago; Geeta Mehta, Director, K. J. Somaiya Centre for Studies in Jainism, Mumbai; and Sanchay Jain, general secretary, Anuvrat Vishva Bharat, NGO, Udaipur.

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