Student Interfaith Research and Leadership Program

Current Participants

Photo of Matt AndersonMatt Anderson is a psychology major and global business leadership minor from Omaha, Nebraska, where he graduated from Creighton Preparatory High School in May 2019 and received the Henry L. Sullivan Outstanding Campus Ministry Award. Along with his participation in our center’s Student Interfaith Research and Leadership Program, Matt is a member of the CSB/SJU Bonner Leader
Program, CSB Community Kitchen Leadership Team, CSB/SJU Extending the Link Program, CSB Campus Ministry J-Walking Program, SJU Varsity Soccer Team, and SJU Student Athlete Advisory Committee. “I am extremely interested in Interfaith work because I believe there are commonalities between religions that most people do not understand exist,” Matt said. “Building bridges, rather than ignoring or tearing down other traditions, is essential in building a healthy and supportive community.”

Photo of Janice KristantiJanice Kristanti was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, and came to the United States when
she was 16 years of age. In 2015 she earned a B.A. with a major in psychology from the University of Minnesota, and in 2019 she earned a M.Div. from the Saint John’s School of Theology where she is currently pursuing a M.A. in theology. Janice has served as a graduate assistant in the School of Theology’s Lilly Youth Network Program and is now a graduate research assistant in the School of Theology. “Growing up in Indonesia, where Christianity is a minority religion, encountering neighbors and even relatives whose faith tradition is different from mine was my day-to-day reality,” Janice said.
“I learned from an early age about the importance of interfaith dialogue not only as a means to live peacefully with
others but also to respond to the Christian duty to know and serve my neighbor. I think Interfaith dialogue is not
simply a matter of learning about other faith traditions and comparing them with ours, but of being challenged to
better know and appreciate our own faith tradition, which leads to broadening our perspective to see truth and
goodness in the other traditions.” 

About the Program

The Jay Phillips Center’s Student Interfaith Research and Leadership Program, which serves students enrolled at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, promotes advanced interfaith learning for prospective interfaith leaders and the interfaith civic engagement that potential leaders should have. Through research and civic engagement, participants attain a) advanced knowledge and understanding of cultural and religious diversity in the United States, especially in Minnesota; b) best practices for dialogue between and among people of different faith traditions (and with people unaffiliated with any faith tradition); and c) the leadership skills needed to respond to and lead in complex interreligious situations on campus, in the wider community, and in professional settings. 

While participants in the Student Interfaith Research and Leadership Program do research about different religions and meet with representatives of different religious communities in Central Minnesota and beyond, much of their research focuses on a) how students from underrepresented religious communities experience the religious environment of these Roman Catholic institutions; b) whether and to what extent they feel respect for their religious traditions from other members of the college community; c) how they are contributing to the vitality of cultural and religious life in the CSB/SJU community and how their contributions might be enhanced and increased; and d) whether and to what extent the spiritual needs of these students are being met at CSB/SJU and how they think they might be better served here.  As a result of their research and interfaith engagement, participants in the Student Interfaith Research Leadership Program share their findings with interested parties at CSB/SJU, e.g. with those working in offices of Campus Ministry, Student Development and Intercultural and International Student Services, as well as in public forums. 

In addition to the above-mentioned interfaith research and engagement, participants in the Student Interfaith Research and Leadership Program meet with members of different student clubs and student-led organizations at CSB/SJU to explore how the Jay Phillips Center might help them incorporate interfaith activities into their events. Our center’s student leaders have already helped various student clubs and organizations in this respect, and they stand ready to help others, even those clubs and organizations that might not appear, at first glance, to be likely partners for interfaith work. 

Funding for this program provided by the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota