The sudden passing of Fr. Don Clifford on May 4, 2009 was a shock to all of us at Saint Joseph's University and to his many friends in the Delaware Valley. Those of us who have been actively engaged in promoting mutual understanding among Jews and Catholics in our region are deeply grateful for Fr. Clifford’s 40-year legacy of leadership, generous spirit, and spiritual sensitivity. Under his vision and guidance from 1967 to 2008, the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph's University hosted conferences, exhibits, dramatic performances and trips to address religious and ethical issues that affect relations between Catholics and Jews. He worked tirelessly to fulfill the mission of the Institute and is greatly missed by many.
To honor his memory and to provide a secure, financial foundation for the Institute that he so passionately directed, Saint Joseph's University established the Rev. Donald G. Clifford, S.J. '51 Memorial Fund for Jewish-Catholic Relations.
This Memorial Fund provides financial support for the ongoing programs and operations of the Institute, thus permanently securing its future. The Memorial Fund has a goal of $1 million.
The Memorial Fund has been launched at an opportune moment in the growing rapprochement between Catholics and Jews. After over five decades of deepening conversation, Jews and Catholics are now grappling with questions that require sustained university-based study and dialogue. Moreover, educational programming and opportunities for Catholic and Jewish congregations to get to know one another continue to be needed.
Among the initiatives that the Memorial Fund supports are:
Research Projects: The positive relationship between Catholics and Jews that has emerged over the past five decades is so unprecedented that both communities are challenged to reexamine longstanding negative ideas about each other;
The support of regional collaborations to provide interfaith educational and dialogical programs and resources for Jews and Catholics in the Delaware Valley. These include congregationally-based interactions between churches and synagogues and high-school level dialogues to promote mutual understanding;
The enhancement of the Institute’s speakers' series into semi-annual conferences of multiple scholars, which include a public component to benefit the wider communities.
The subsidizing of team-taught courses in Christian-Jewish relations in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.
The funding of educational and study-tour programs, including scholarships.
Thanks to the generous support of the local Jewish and Christian communities, Fr. Clifford’s vision of improving relations between Catholics and Jews through outreach, education and dialogue continues. We hope you will help us honor Fr. Clifford’s legacy with contributions to his Memorial Fund. Thank you in advance for your consideration and support.