A few years ago, five to be exact, my husband Stephen died after a very prolonged battle with brain cancer. During our 23 years of marriage, although I was the Catholic and he the Jew, we managed to raise our three children in the most remarkable way - in love and dedication, together, to be point that from the outside you weren't sure who was what! All of my work, whether it was receiving a grant from Lilly Endowment to study children and their interfaith lives, or a grant from the ACTA Foundation to write the handbook outlining the celebration of Hebrew Naming and Baptism (which you can find on the BABY NAMING link!)...all of it was conducted and inspired through his encouragement and guidance (with the help of the spirit!). After his death I began a graduate degree in theology, searching for the way to continue my work with The Interfaith Union, though in a transformed way.
I am about to embark on the last piece of the puzzle: I have been accepted into a Residency in Hospital Chaplaincy, beginning in September 2013. It is a one-year program, where I hope to continue to shape and refine my pastoral skills, of which YOU have been instrumental in refining. You have taught me well, and I am so grateful.
I am no longer directing the Union School/St. Raymond's; the program is no longer affiliated with The Interfaith Union, save for bonds of community and affection. While I have much love for the program and families (after all, it has been a 20 year journey), the focus of the IU moving forward will be on couples of all faiths and the celebration of Hebrew Naming and Baptism for those wishing to experience these sacred rites of initiation.
I ask for your patience and prayers; if I am slow to return a phone call or mail, forgive me. I hope to return full time in the fall of 2014 with new programming, new energy and a desire to accompany you on the journey that transformed my life in ways I am still discovering. My special thanks to ALL of those who support me and the workings of the Interfaith Union, from clergy to teachers and school leaders (shout out to Kimberly
and Matt Bonilla, Lesli and Mike Marasco, and Chuck and Mary Pat Heftman), and MOST assuredly, there are more jewels than her crown can hold, Amy Freshwater!
In peace and blessing,
Eileen O’Farrell Smith