By Rebecca Hosier
A priest, a rabbi, and a reverend walk into a high school classroom.
No, this is not the start of a joke. World Religion teacher Mr. Vanada has been inviting holy men and women into his classroom to speak to students since 2006.
Every year Mr. Vanada has pastors, priests, and rabbis speak to his students about their respective faith. When asked why he finds guest speakers beneficial he called them authoritative and personable.
“I have sat at my desk and had to think through some of the things the speakers say,” Mr. Vanada said.
Mr. Vanada believes that the speakers add a face to the religion. To him the speakers provide a non-judgmental outlet for students to ask their questions about faith. Many of the holy men and women can enlighten the students without them having to completely immerse themselves in a certain religion. The students can listen and pick what they want to believe.
Retired pastor Rev. Patrick Rooney spoke to the students of the Red Lion Senior High School World Religions class on Nov. 14, 2013. He is a former Roman Catholic monk and has been a Lutheran reverend for over 20 years.
Rev. Rooney explained the basics of the Lutheran faith and how it differs from its mother church, the Roman Catholic Church. He also answered numerous questions posed to him from the students.
The reverend explained Lutheranism and discussed the sacraments, Heaven, the Virgin Mary, and creation. He told the class that the sacraments, in the Lutheran Church, are physical ways to show their faith in God. “Sacraments are God’s way of hugging us and letting us know he loves us,” Rev. Rooney said.
The reverend introduced the students to the word theotokis, meaning god bearer. In Lutheranism the Virgin Mary was immaculate and free from all sin. In the Lutheran faith Mary remained a virgin her whole life.
He was asked questions from ‘Is Heaven a physical place?’ to ‘Is God still relevant in today’s society?’ Rev. Rooney said that Heaven couldn’t be grasped by the human mind.
“Hell is an absence of God,” Rev. Patrick Rooney said.
Upon being asked the question, ‘Can Satan be forgiven?’ he countered with a simple question. “Does Lucifer want to be forgiven?” Rev. Rooney asked.
Along with the Lutheran pastor Rev. Rooney people of other religions visit Red Lion High School. Buddhist Mr. Bob Hayes spoke to students on Nov. 21, 2013.
Mr. Hayes spoke to the students of the historical Buddha, also known as Siddhartha. Buddha was human. He lived and died as a human.
“Buddha taught well into his 80’s. He died when he was given poisoned food,” said Buddhist Mr. Hayes.
The Buddha was born as Siddhartha, an Indian prince. It was not until long into his adulthood did he became enlightened and become the Buddha most commonly known today.
One of the first things said by Mr. Hayes was that Buddhism has no divine deity. To a Buddhist, Heaven and Hell have no meaning. Many Buddhists believe in reincarnation and karma.
Mr. Hayes also walked the students through how to meditate and focus the mind.
Rev. Rooney and Mr. Hayes are the beginning of a list of speakers and holy men coming to speak to the Red Lion world religions class.