Bishop Bhai Birthday

From Leonard Swidler

Jan 15, 2005 8:17 PM

Dear Leo,

It is interesting to find how many things, even on the surface, connect us. For decades I was called Leo (though I was baptized Leonard, as you were baptized Leobard). In
fact, because I often came dancing in late to most every appointment, I earned the nickname Leotardus. Thinking of our common nickname, I also remember once when I was in my late teens being in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and going to the memorial service of a distant relative (older than my father) whose name was Leo Swidler. I sat in the back of the
Jewish funeral home and shriveled inwardly when I repeatedly heard what a good fellow Leo Swidler was.

We also share something more substantive, namely, much of our education was at the feet of Norbertine priests. Yours, I gather, were largely Dutch, while mine were American,
though I remember meeting the Dutch founder, Abbot Pennings, of the Norbertines in America..

But what really connects us is our similar view of life and Catholicism. For us both, to be a Catholic Christian, to be a follower of Jesus, is to be as fully human as possible. As
Jesus put it, he came that we may have life, and more abundantly! Eastern Christianity speaks often of “divinization” as the goal of life, and that is a great insight and magnet. However, for the modern world the greatest draw is “humanization.” Of course, the two are
ultimately the same, for as Genesis one says so clearly, we are all “Images of God,” and in Genesis three, God says of humanity: “Look, they have become as one of us, knowing good and evil.”

It is making this vision real in your life, and in the lives of all you have touched, that draws me to you as a friend. For your 75th Birthday (I preceded you by one year on this
January 6), I thank you for your life till now, and wish many, many more years of fruitful humanization-divinization.


Leonard (Leo) Swidler
Professor Leonard Swidler, Ph.D, S.T.L., LL.D., LL.D.
Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue
Co-Founder/Editor, Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Founder/Director, Institute for Interreligious, Intercultural Dialogue
Religion Department, Temple University Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
Tel: 215-204-7251 (Off.); 215-477-1080 (Home); Fax: 215-204-4569
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