Cultivating Community

Insights Drawn from Muslim and Christian Practices

A Conversation with Ayan Omar and Fr. Michael Peterson, OSB
moderated by Rediet Negede Lewi
March 28, 4:30 - 5:45 PM
Quad 264, Saint John’s University

Ayan Omar and Father Michael will share practices from their respective religious traditions that they have found helpful for cultivating inclusive and thriving communities. They are convinced that these practices can be helpful to students and others who want to help foster and live in such communities. Committed as Ayan and Fr. Michael are to interreligious dialogue, both will also discuss what they have learned from each other’s religious tradition about cultivating community. And as members of the St. Cloud Muslim/Christian Dialogue Group, they both will discuss how they strive to cultivate community between Muslims and Christians in Central Minnesota.  

Image of Ayan Omar

Ayan Omar is an American-Muslim refugee from Somalia who is a language arts educator at St. Cloud Technical High School. In 2017 she was one of only seven refugees to receive an Outstanding Refugee award from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She was cited for her civic leadership. Ayan has given numerous presentations on Islam and on the traumatic experiences of immigrant students in the United States. “My educational and refugee background inspires my activism both locally and nationally,” she said, and “I enjoy sharing how Islamic teachings and human decency are one and the same.” 

Image of Fr. Michael Peterson, OSB

Fr. Michael Peterson, OSB, has been a Benedictine monk since 1996, first affiliated with Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota, until its closing in 2012, when he transferred his monastic vows to Saint John’s Abbey. He is the abbey’s oblate director, the sacramental chaplain at the College of Saint Benedict, and the chair of the board of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, a group of monks and nuns engaged in interreligious dialogue with members of other religions. He regularly leads retreats and conferences and he serves in pastoral assignments throughout the Diocese of St. Cloud.      

Image of Rediet Negede Lewi

Rediet Negede Lewi ('19) is a psychology major and a theology minor, a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies, and co-president of the CSB/SJU chapter of Psi-Chi: The International Honor Society in Psychology. Born and raised until age fourteen in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she attended high school at the International School of Tanganyika in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Rediet has been working as a student interfaith leader for the Jay Phillips Center since the fall 2016 semester.