Los Angeles Buddhist Catholic Dialogue
September 25, 2002
Loyola Marymount University
Present: Gordon Gibb, Dickson Yagi, Al Albergate, Rev.
Sumana, Cynthia Shimazu, Ven. Piyananda, Rev. Kalianu, Mary
Ann Gould, Ven. Karuna Dharma, Fr. Jim Fredericks, Fr. Alexei
Smith, Chris Chappell, John Kasey, Michael Kerze
Gordon Gibb announced that he was now involved with the recently
founded Spacious Mind and Retreat Center at Chapman University
in Orange County. Check out: www.spaciousmind.org.
Fr. Alexei: I was shocked at the closing of the Office
of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs when I was informed
last Monday that our office was no longer being funded. Other
offices are being eliminated or will operate at vastly reduced
budgets: gay and lesbian ministry, respect life, ethnic ministry,
campus ministry, and detention ministry will be cut in half.
In Religious Education, 10 positions will be lost. On the way
to the Hindu Catholic Dialogue a woman told me to do something
about it! Its too valuable! When I talked with Mahony
he offered to make me a consultant but instead I told him I
would make him a counter-proposal; the office needs official
status! Friday I had lunch with a gentleman who asked me how
much I needed to keep the office going. He agreed to pick up
expenses he had been following the activities of the
office and, even though he is a non-Catholic wanted it to continue.
I was floored by the offer. On Monday at the deanery meeting
I will make a counter-proposal to the cardinal that I
will run the office out of my parish with funding from a private
source. Others offered help, including Lucky Altman at the NCCJ.
Grace, our secretary, has been working at diocesan center for
45 years; she has seniority over everyone. She will be working
in several different offices. Others are just leaving and others
are trying to get other arrangement. Some are not affected but
are leaving because of lack of vision in the management.
This is the first year the seminary had an interreligious and
ecumenical class. Weve had two great interreligious events
at the new cathedral; the cardinal said it would be the first
of many such events. There is certainly a mixed message being
Chris Chappell: Id like to suggest that if things
dont work out Monday, revisit us. The president of LMU
just made an address where he said that interreligious dialogue
was very important to the university. Jim and I will try to
work things out.
Fr. Fredericks: Lets talk about the Society of
Buddhist Christian Studies 2004 conference here at LMU. Im
the local host. The tentative theme, building on Avaloketisavara,
Kwan Yin, and Psalms is: Hearing the Cry of the Poor,
Buddhist and Christians Working Cooperatively for the Poor and
Distressed. Cardinal Nguyen Thuan died this weekend so
if we wish a dialogue with Thich Nhat Hanh we will need another
speaker for a dialogue. Lets talk ideas abut possible
invitees. Ben Habito who is chairing the conference would like
Cardinal Mahony to come and make a statement about the importance
of interreligious dialogue for the Church and Catholics
a statement that could be reprinted in Origins. Bishop Tod Brown
in Orange County, head of interreligious and ecumenical affairs
for the Catholic Bishops, would come and John Borelli.
Ven Karuna Dharma: Aloysius Perris would be good. Ven.
Dhamma Prahuto (sp?)from Thailand, Thich Nhat Hanh, Arysatana.
We should have sessions in different languages or at least translations
of talks, for our Thai and Vietnamese participants.
Fr. Fredericks: It would be wonderful if LMU could be
a place where local people could have a good experience of dialogue.
For example, it would be a good thing for the large Vietnamese
Buddhist and Catholic communities in Orange County to help in
reconciliation. We should reach out to the average person and
not just elites. And again invite Tibetan monks to construct
a sand mandala as they did two years ago. We would need help
for the monks can we find someone in the Tibetan community
to sponsor a mandala? We also can set up a labyrinth, a Christian
walking meditation, and have a dialogue of the mandala and the
Michael Kerze: I remember the wonderful shrine Wat Thai
constructed for our Malibu Dialogue and Retreat.
Ven. Piyananda: Sri Lankan monks can build a special
shrine, a chanting house, about 8 feet in diameter. Its
very beautiful. At the end, it is put outdoors to be destroyed
by the elements.
Chris Chappell: We should have a tour of Buddhist temples
and Christian churches, for example Hsi Lai and Wat Thai and
the new cathedral.
Al Albergate: And Soka University in Orange County.
Michael Kerze: Higashi Honganji in downtown will be celebrating
its centennial in 2003, the oldest Buddhist temple in Los Angeles.
If we can have Fr. Lawrence here he can talk of Christian meditation
traditions and we can have a Buddhist talk about Buddhist traditions.
We also should have meditation teaching and practice workshops
available. Fr. Lawrence has already done a lot with Buddhists.
We could perhaps have a member of our Sri Lankan/Thai community
talk and teach vipassana.
Al Albergate: Soka Gakkai can do scroll chanting.
Ven Karuna Dharma: Ven. Dieu Tu does walking and dancing
meditation. We should also reach out to the boy scouts in the
Vietnamese community. Rev. Kusala recently spoke to 700 of them.
Our next meeting will be Friday, Nov 1, 11:30-2, at Ven. Piyanandas
temple: Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara.
On September 2, Ven. Phrathepson died. He was very supportive
of the Buddhist Catholic Dialogue and was one reason Wat Thai
joined. A ceremony for him will be help at 3 pm at Wat Thai
Action Items for follow up:
Cardinal Mahony to address the conference.
Bishop Tod Brown
Thich Nhat Hanh and a corresponding speaker for dialogue
Ven. Dhamma Prahuto (sp?)
Ven. Dieu Tu
Vietnamese community: Buddhist/Catholic
average person participation