Describing him as, "approachable, engaging and a beacon of light for Western New York," the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York will honor Bishop Edward U. Kmiec with its 2012 Community Service Award, which will be presented on June 9 at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo during the council's eighth annual banquet.
Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of MPAC-WNY, said the bishop is being honored for his outreach to the local Muslim community. "He is so honest and a man of his word. Bishop Kmiec has proven himself to be a true leader and visionary, and that leadership has been on display, especially when he had to make some tough decisions in his role as the bishop of Buffalo."
"This will be a special moment for me," Bishop Kmiec said. "It is reflective of the diligent, necessary and effective work by the Church that has been done in the diocese and across the nation for many years to establish and maintain the Catholic-Muslim dialogue. As we move forward, we need to make sure that we continue to foster an environment of respect, freedom and cooperation. I am most grateful to the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York for this award."
In May of 2006, during an address to the council, Bishop Kmiec called for the elevation of the dialogue between the local Muslim community and the Diocese of Buffalo. "We have a duty to this generation, and many to come, to witness the positive role of faith in public life," he said.
When the new Jaffarya Islamic Center and Mosque had their grand opening in East Amherst in 2011, a message of welcome from Bishop Kmiec was read by Father Francis X. Mazur, chairman of the diocesan Ecumenical Interfaith Commission. "Many of the people in attendance told me how pleased they were that our bishop made them feel welcome and part of the religious community."
Father Mazur said the bishop has encouraged Catholic parishes to learn about the teachings of Islam. "I have gone to several Catholic parishes with a local scholar and made presentations with him. I give the basis for the Catholic Church's involvement in dialogue with Muslims from conciliar documents." Father Mazur said small group dialogue sessions between Catholics and Muslims, which have continued for a year, have focused on marriage and family life in today's society.
For more information on the banquet and the Muslim Public Affairs council, visit www.mpac-wny.org