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! It’s 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. We’ve 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 sent.

Chris Chappell: I’d like to suggest that if things don’t 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: Let’s talk about the Society of Buddhist Christian Studies 2004 conference here at LMU. I’m 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. Let’s 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 labyrinth traditions.

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. It’s 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. Piyananda’s 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 this Sunday.

SBCS 2004

Action Items for follow up:

Cardinal Mahony to address the conference.
Bishop Tod Brown
Thich Nhat Hanh and a corresponding speaker for dialogue
Aloysius Perris
Ven. Dhamma Prahuto (sp?)
Fr. Lawrence

Sand Mandala
Chanting Shrine
Meditation workshops:
Fr. Lawrence
Ven. Dieu Tu

Vietnamese community: Buddhist/Catholic
average person participation
boy scouts