The Rapidian

Tuesday Tabletalk - Mystics and Mysticism

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In celebration of 2012 - Year of Interfaith Understanding, the October Tuesday Tabletalk will be held on October 16, 2012 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Dominican Center at Marywood (DCM), 2025 Fulton Street East, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503.
<center><strong>Mystics and Mysticism Speakers</strong></center>

Mystics and Mysticism Speakers

Underwriting support from:
Map to free DCM parking--barrier-free.

Map to free DCM parking--barrier-free.

In celebration of 2012 - Year of Interfaith Understanding, the October Tuesday Tabletalk will be held on October 16, 2012 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Dominican Center at Marywood (DCM). DCM is located at 2025 Fulton Street East, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503. Parking is free and the DCM area is barrier free. The cost for Tuesday Tabletalk is $10.00 and this fee includes both the program and the dinner.

With respect to all religious dietary customs, vegetarian meals will be served. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged, as seating is limited. To register, call (616) 454-1241 (Option 5); or, for online registration for the October l program, visit

Participants will dine at round tables of eight, comprised of persons from varying faith traditions. The evening will include a brief presentation by each of the presenters pictured above on Mystics and Mysticism, a theme common to most faith traditions, followed by discussion among dinner companions as well as large group Q and A.

About our October 16th Tuesday Tabletalk presenters:

Aslam Modak was born in India, and raised in Indonesia and India prior to his coming to America in 1990.   A Muslim, Aslam has studied in two Catholic schools and in various other settings as well.  He facilitates classes in Humanities and Information Technology at the University of Phoenix, and at Grand Valley State University.  Aslam previously served as Information Technology Chair at Davenport University.  In addition to his academic and professional affiliations, Aslam Modak serves on the Board of the West Michigan Islamic Center and has been a speaker on Islam and/or Sufism in multiple academic symposiums.  He has spent significant time with traditional Muslim scholars and sufis, and is widely traveled.  He primarily belongs to the Qadri and Chisti sufi orders but has also been blessed with affiliation to the Rifai Sufi order. His Sufi understanding has been shaped immensely via the guidance of authorized Sufi teachers as well as advanced Sufi students in India, Kuwait, Canada, and the United States. As a Sufi student of Muslim background, he considers himself fortunate to be connected to the shining personality of the Prophet of Islam, and delights to be in the company of lovers of God of all faiths.

Len Robinson celebrated his bar mitzvah at Congregation Shearith Israel: the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York City.  Len completed training courses while attending the University of Judaism. He attended a Para-rabbi program and was certified as a Para-rabbi through the Hebrew Union at the College in Cincinnati. This program is designed to train lay leaders to serve as assistants to rabbis or assist communities lacking sufficient rabbinical coverage, to help them support the spiritual life of their congregations and communities. Para-rabbis are trained to conduct life cycle events including funerals, unveilings and baby namings. They are qualified to conduct Shabbat morning minyans, assist in Shiva minyans, conduct Torah study, and conduct services at nursing homes and assisted living centers in the community. Len received his BA at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University majoring in theater and accounting. He is the past treasurer and current Vice President at Temple Emanuel; and also president and artistic director of Jewish Theater in Grand Rapids. Len is also the owner and a certified financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial Services.

Fred Stella began his spiritual search within the Hindu Dharma at the age of 15, being trained both here and in India. His articles have appeared in Freeman, India Link, Hinduism Today and the GR Press. For over a decade Fred has held leadership positions in the local chapter of Self Realization Fellowship (Yogoda Satsanga Society in India). He is an ordained Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple. Under the direction of Vivekananda Kendra in 2005, Mr. Stella completed a 30 city lecture tour in India, joining the effort to promote indigenous culture and religion in areas facing the encroachment of Western influence. In the U.S., he has lectured and facilitated workshops and retreats at schools, churches and in the private sector. Fred taught Hatha Yoga at Muskegon Community College for 15 years and currently teaches for the MBA program at GVSU. He is also president of Interfaith Dialogue Association, and hosts its weekly radio program, “Common Threads” on WGVU-FM.  Mr. Stella majored in Media Studies at the University of Detroit. . Besides IDA, Fred sits on the advisory boards of Grand Dialogue (promoting conversations between Science and Religion), The Kaufman Interfaith Institute and the West Michigan chapter of the ACLU, where he often consults on freedom of religion issues.

Diane Zerfas, OP, received her BA in Math, Chemistry, Theology and Education from Aquinas College; an MA in Religious Studies at Aquinas in 1981 and an MA in Pastoral Studies at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis in 1991. She holds a Specialized Certificate in Parish Life and Administration from Loyola University of New Orleans and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the DeWitt Retreat Center/Dominican Center for Religious Development.  From 1972 through 2006, Sister Diane ministered in several ways, including teaching high school and being Formation Director for the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids, Director of Initiation/Evangelization at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Kentwood, Co-Director of Pastoral Life at Marywood and a member of the Leadership Team for the DS~ GR. For the past six years, she has been deeply involved in planning and leading the Spiritual Formation programs here at Dominican Center.


submitted by: Rosemary Barber-Steers, Dominican Center at Marywood

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