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Associate Dean Talks Tolerance at University Devotional

Barbara Culatta

Associate Dean Barbara Culatta of the McKay School of Education drew from the palette of her personal life when she spoke on tolerance at the University Devotional on Tuesday, February 3. Throughout her talk, entitled "Loving Our Neighbor: Tolerance and Acceptance as We Come Together in Knowing Christ," Culatta illustrated aspects of her topic with stories about her own family, friends, and colleagues.

Culatta began her talk by sharing the experience of her conversion to the LDS religion at age 38. She described how her age had enabled her to actively pursue truth with maturity as she sought to find God in her life. "Although I had rejected religion, God had not forgotten me," she recalled. "He led me to where He wanted me to be."

During her talk, Culatta outlined seven principles of tolerance and acceptance in order to teach her audience how to better love and understand people of different religious, cultural, and experiential backgrounds:

"We draw nearer to Christ as we love, serve, and accept those from different backgrounds."

  1. Look for commonalities
  2. Accept people where they are
  3. Reflect on the goodness in other religions
  4. See differences and weaknesses as part of life
  5. Value what we can learn from others
  6. Serve people from different faiths and backgrounds
  7. Give a soft response when criticized

Culatta developed each of these seven areas primarily by describing religious experiences of her own family members. In reference to her brother, who is a Catholic priest, she said, "I see more similarities than differences in our religions." She mentioned his reverence for the scriptures and his love for the Savior. Culatta cautioned her listeners to avoid implying, via actions or words, that other religions lack truth in their beliefs. She also spoke about her mother and father, including how her father, at age 94, faithfully attends Mass every morning and repeats the "priest's prayers" twice a day. Culatta shared the experience of performing temple work for her mother, who passed away in 1992. "I knew that she was with me in the temple," Culatta expressed. "My mother's openness and my respect for her beliefs eventually led her to the fullness of the Gospel."

Amy Wylie and Barbara Culatta

During her devotional, Culatta showed a video featuring Amy Wylie, whom she met when working with the Inner City Refugee Project in Salt Lake. Wylie and her husband, Bob, have spent many years working with refugees who have come to Utah from all over the world, some of whom have become part of the Wylie family. "Those that come to the Promised Land are brought by the hand of the Lord," Amy stated in the video. "I have a family made up of the nations."

Culatta concluded her devotional by reminding her audience of the eternal significance of tolerance: "We draw nearer to Christ as we love, serve, and accept those from different backgrounds."

23 February 2009