IDI: Interreligious Dialogue Initiative

A Message from the IDI Chair, Dr. Jason Wirth:

After a long ordeal, we return to campus, perhaps with apprehension, likely licking our wounds. In a spirit of solidarity and compassion, I welcome everyone back.

I am currently serving as the chair of the Interreligious Dialogue Initiative (IDI), which is part of the Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture (ICTC) and works collaboratively with them. It organizes and hosts one major lecture each quarter, seeking to address the themes highlighted by the ICTC, but through the lens of interreligious dialogue and reflection. It is my hope to contribute to a healthy, inclusive, respectful, and honest space of shared spiritual striving across the human world’s many religious traditions.

In the months before his passing, Peter Ely, SJ, asked me to replace him as the head of the IDI. It continues to remain my privilege to accept Peter’s offer and to walk in his admittedly large footsteps. I dedicated the first year to his memory and legacy. Challenges and opportunities continue to confront us, and I hope to use Peter’s generous, discerning, and radically open example as an inspiration and guide.

Last academic year, as we all navigated the strange waters of the pandemic, the IDI hosted two events. In the winter quarter, the Soto Zen priest and Viet Nam War veteran Claude AnShin Thomas spoke on peacemaking. In the spring quarter, our own Pat Twohy, SJ, joined the Lummi Elder Darrell Hillaire in a dialogue about spirituality and the ecological crisis. Both events were held on Zoom and were recorded and remain available for viewing on the ICTC website.

I am still planning this academic year’s three lectures. Given the current policy proscribing large non-classroom events, the Fall lecture and discussion will be offered remotely through Zoom. Although the circumstances of the winter and spring lectures are still to be determined, the winter lecture will highlight the Sakyadhita International Association for Buddhist Women, whose new president is Dr. Sharon Suh, and which works “at the grassroots level” to provide “a communications network among Buddhist women internationally” and to “promote research and publications on Buddhist women’s history and other topics of interest” and to “strive to create equal opportunities for women in all Buddhist traditions.” Although the speaker is still in the process of being identified, I am also working with our local friends at the Seattle Buddhist Study Center at the Betsuin (Seattle Buddhist Church). For more information on Sakyadhita, see:

Please contact me with questions and suggestions. I seek to be responsive to our community and to offer spiritually rich and provocative programming that will nourish our whole community, religious and non-religious, traditionalists and seekers.

Tetsuzen Jason Wirth (

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Corona Sutra

With Jason Wirth, PhD

Tetsuzen Jason Wirth, Professor of Philosophy at Seattle University and a Soto Zen priest, offers a Dharma talk (speaking from the heart regarding the great matters of living and dying) that also seeks to offer some Zen words of encouragement during the current crisis. He begins with a brief reflection on a line from the Heart Sutra and then ties its thought to the words of Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253). In so doing, he tries to understand how Dogen would also have seen our crisis as a sutra, a moment the study of which can lead to an awakening and a deepening of our practice.

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Past Messages from IDI

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About the Interreligious Dialogue Initiative

The Interreligious Dialogue Initiative (IDI) established in 2012 under the auspices of Mission and Ministry and now, as of Fall 2015, located within the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture (ICTC) aims to awaken sensibility in the Seattle U. community to the richness of the world’s religions, a richness abundantly represented on our campus, and to move beyond mere tolerance to engagement. The IDI steering committee includes on-campus representatives of various religious and spiritual traditions and key areas such as Campus Ministry, Theology and Religious Studies, and the School of Theology and Ministry. Beginning in the academic year 2019-2020, the IDI will be shifting its focus in a new direction. Each quarter IDI, in collaboration with various other groups and initiatives on campus, will sponsor a public forum designed to deepen awareness of religious traditions and spiritual pathways. We hope that these events will emphasize the continuing creative role of religions in a secular age.


Read the text from the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Decree 5: “Our Mission and Interreligious Dialogue.”