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The Tuohy Endowment in Interreligious Studies has entered a new chapter with the launching of the Tuohy Center for Interreligious Understanding. The goal of the Center is to further interreligious studies and engagement at John Carroll University and beyond.


The Walter and Mary Tuohy Chair of Interreligious Studies was established in 1966 as a direct response to the Second Vatican Council’s call for Catholics to engage other believers in a spirit of appreciation and reconciliation. Over the years, the Tuohy Chair carried forward the spirit of the Council by hosting visiting scholars, lectures, and courses aimed at fostering greater understanding of the diverse religious traditions that shape our world.


In the summer of 2023, John Carroll University reaffirmed its commitment and reinvigorated its efforts to promote interreligious understanding by establishing the Tuohy Center and hiring Dr. Semiha Topal (Ph.D. in Religious Studies) as its inaugural Program Manager. The Center is currently led by Dr. Edward Hahnenberg (Breen Chair in Catholic Studies & Chair of the Theology and Religious Studies Department), who explains that one goal of the Tuohy Center is “to bring the interreligious efforts of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies together under a single umbrella” and “to provide a point of collaboration with partners across campus who seek to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive sense of belonging at John Carroll University.”


Infused with this spirit and mission, Tuohy Center has initiated several programs and event series offering opportunities for interreligious engagement and learning. The Breaking Bread lunches are back with a touch of fun learning activities, such as trivia games, scripture identification, debates, and jigsaw puzzles—all held in the newly renovated Interfaith Atrium of the Lombardo Student Center. Dr. Topal is bringing her prior experience in teaching religions of the world courses to a new book club called Sip & Read, where she will lead monthly discussions on selected scriptures of six major religious traditions. Keeping with its tradition of inviting renowned scholars to campus to share their expertise, the Tuohy Center is hosting Dr. Ruben Habito to give the inaugural lecture on “Zen and the Spiritual Exercises” on October 12th at 7pm in the Jardine Room. Three days later, on October 15th, in collaboration with the Mandel Chair in Jewish Studies, the Tuohy Center is hosting a free concert in the Donahue auditorium, featuring the Jewish Jazz band Teiku—offering the Cleveland community a unique Sunday night experience. November is no less busy with the ongoing event series such as the Breaking Bread and Sip & Read meetings, as well as collaborations with other campus organizations, which can all be found at the Tuohy Center’s new website, and their Facebook and Instagram accounts.