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9/11 event focuses on Charter of Compassion

Representatives Naperville Interfaith Leadership Associatimake final plans for upcoming 9/11 community event Sunday North Central College’s Wentz Hall.  (From

Representatives of the Naperville Interfaith Leadership Association make final plans for the upcoming 9/11 community event Sunday at North Central College’s Wentz Hall. (From left) Tabassum Haleen from the Islamic Center of Naperville; Bernie Newman from Congregation Beth Shalom; Lynn Pries, chaplain of North Central College; and Cheri Rosales of St. Thomas the Apostle Church of Naperville. | Submitted by Miriam Qunell

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At a glance

Where: North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave.

When: 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11

On the Web:

Updated: November 30, 2011 12:29AM

The Naperville Interfaith Leadership Association will make a call for compassion while remembering the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy on the 10th anniversary Sunday.

The association will honor and remember those lost during the first 9/11 Community Event: Remember, Release, Renew at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall. But the focus will be on the future to embrace diversity and compassion.

Coordinators of the event hope it will be a springboard toward adopting the Charter for Compassion, a national initiative encouraging people to live by the golden rule.

“We think it’s a way of moving to the next step of recommitting ourselves to being American with religious freedoms and respect for others,” said Lynn Pries, chaplain of North Central College and president of NILA.

The Charter for Compassion was devised in 2009 by author Karen Armstrong. It calls simply for people to commit to treating others the way they would want to be treated. Since its inception, more than 75,000 people have signed on. Cities, including Chicago, are increasingly expressing interest in becoming an official City of Compassion — meaning that they affirm the principle and commit to a 10-year plan of promoting its concepts.

NILA members first learned about the Charter for Compassion when talking about planning a 9/11 commemorative event, also a One Naperville Project. The Charter for Compassion reflected their desire to use the anniversary as a time to move forward and celebrate Naperville’s cultural diversity.

“We’re a community of mixed culture and mixed faith,” said Miriam Qunell, who represents Congregation Beth Shalom on NILA. “Ultimately, we all have the right to be here, to be who we are, where we are. Everyone who calls Naperville home should be able to feel at home in Naperville.”

Nizar Jiwani, a member of NILA, is a volunteer with the group Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering. As an American and a Muslim, Jiwani said that, during the course of helping to plan the event, he’s learned that Naperville faith groups have a great deal of diversity to celebrate, but also have much in common as well.

“I’ve found that our beliefs are generally the same,” Jiwani said. “The interpretation and practice and language, might be different. But our ethics of taking care of our fellow human beings and of the earth, we all have in common.

“Humanity and taking care of others is important regardless of the specific religion. Humanity is the basis, upholding the dignity of all human beings is the most important thing.”

The event will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday at Wentz Hall with an interactive art project designed to promote an understanding of different cultures and beliefs.

“We’re encouraging people to walk around and talk to people they don’t know,” Qunell said. “It’s not a matter of converting or accepting beliefs as their own. It’s just about meeting and talking.”

At 5 p.m. representatives from different faith groups in Naperville will do readings and meditations and lead reflections. The event will conclude with a walk to the Naperville Riverwalk Amphitheater, across from the city’s Dan Shanower 9/11 Memorial.

“On that shore is remembrance, on our shore, we’ll be reclaiming our future and finding a new way forward,” Qunell said.

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