COLUMBUS, OH — Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, an Indian-American faculty member at Ohio State University, was presented with the 2016 Luminosa Award for Unity during a recent award ceremony in the Focolare’s little city of Mariapolis Luminosa in Hyde Park, New York.
Butalia is one of the pioneers in Catholic-Sikh relationships in the US. He was invited by Pope Benedict XVI to the October 2011 prayer ceremony, commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the first World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy, on October 27, 1986.
He is a trustee of the Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations, Parliament of the World’s Religions, North American Interfaith Network, and a special advisor to Religions for Peace – USA.
In his acceptance speech, Singh emphasized that faith always had a special role in the American society, a nation of immigrants. However, while former waves of immigrants seamlessly assimilated after a few generations, many immigrants from the last 50 years–like Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Jain and Baha’i’s–want to maintain their religious identity.
Thinking of this context, he shared several steps to help open one’s mind in favor of dialogue. First, recognize that one’s faith is not the only true one. Also, he suggested that people consider the failure of the concept of America as a ‘melting pot’ where differences are regarded as not important.