St. Viator priest starts interfaith coalition
Social justice has been a lifelong passion for the Rev. Corey Brost, a Viatorian priest who chairs the religion department at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights.
In recent years, Brost has opened students' eyes to volunteering at local soup kitchens, and stood with teens at suburban train stations protesting the Iraq war.
Brost's newest project -- the Children of Abraham Coalition -- brings suburban teens and adults of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths together through their shared lineage in Abraham.
It's an idea he's had rolling around in his head for years since he took classes in Islam at the Catholic Theological Union in Washington, D.C.
Brost says post 9/11, he's seen anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry spread across the country. And interacting with teens on a daily basis, he's heard anti-Semitic comments that kids "make without realizing."
Brost, a former Louisville journalist and lawyer, says he's come to have a great reverence for Muslim and Jewish traditions.
"I've seen how their values echo those in my own faith. That's so misunderstood in our nation, and that misunderstanding is such a great source of hatred and violence."
Brost says he wants to channel the positive energy of suburban teens before they are recruited by the "hate mongers" in the world.
"They have a great voice," Brost said of suburban teens. "We just need to help them find their voice on this issue. Work with them."
The Children of Abraham Coalition first began meeting in December, and now boasts 15 to 20 members, a mixture of teens and young professionals. Along with Brost, Rabbi Allison Abrams of Long Grove's Temple Chai and Shaheen Khan of Schaumburg's Masjid Al-Huda mosque are serving as group leaders.
The moderator of Viator's student justice group, Brost said a core group of high school students joined the coalition right away. And while Children of Abraham has made connections within the suburban Muslim community, Brost said the coalition, with the help of Abrams, is hoping to recruit more Jewish teens from the area.
Bartlett High School senior Khaled Basrawi joined the group after hearing about it from friend Chris Gallman, a Viator senior whom he's gotten to know through the Civil Air Patrol program.
A Muslim, Basrawi says hearing slurs about other faiths -- as well as his own -- upsets him. At the coalition, he says he feels like he's actively working to minimize conflict among the faiths.
"I think we're very fortunate we live in such a diverse area," Basrawi said.
The coalition has spent monthly meetings talking, sharing bits of each tradition's scripture and examples of religious bigotry. Group members also work on service projects, including making lunches for the Arlington Heights PADS program.
Members plan to worship together at a Catholic Church, Temple Chai and Masjid Al-Huda, and are planning an interfaith prayer for peace event Sept. 11.
Studies show that young people who dialogue with people from other religions actually get a deeper understanding of their own faith.
"It's a win-win," Brost says. "Kids, by getting involved with the groups like this, are helping to be a voice for peace in the world, integration. And they're gaining a greater appreciation for their own faiths."
To join, e-mail email@example.com.