Inauguration of New Prayer Hall: Greater St. Louis, MO
The Sathya Sai Center of Greater Saint Louis inaugurated a new prayer hall on 16 March 2019. The program began with a ribbon-cutting and a candle-lighting ceremony at the altar. The event also featured a moving brief ceremony celebrating the Unity of Faiths with blessings offered by a Christian Chaplain, a Jewish Priestess, a Buddhist Master, a Muslim Faith Leader, a Sikh Giani and a Hindu Priest. The presence of these leaders of diverse faiths in the ceremony reinforced one of the key purposes of the prayer hall: to unite people of all faiths with a common message of love and service. The ceremony was also graced by the presence of prominent members of the SSIO leadership including Dr. Narendranath Reddy, Chairman of the Prasanthi Council; his wife, Dr. Hyma Reddy; Dr. William Harvey, Member of the Prasanthi Council; and USA National Council President Dr. Jack Feely. Also in attendance were Dr. Venkat Sadanand, Chair SSIO IT Committee and Dr. Hari Conjeevaram, SSIO Zone 1 Medical Director.
The Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) children began with devotional singing. Unison singing by all attendees followed. Dr. Reddy delivered the keynote address and highlighted the common thread in all religions – Love. He gave beautiful examples of the love Sathya Sai Baba showered on all people and how He took care of even the unspoken desires of all around Him. At the conclusion of his speech, a beautiful picture of Sathya Sai Baba was unveiled in the foyer.
Lunch followed during which Young Adults had the privilege of meeting with Dr. Reddy. The afternoon program started with a talk by Dr. Hyma Reddy, followed by a presentation by a panel of speakers on “Transformation of Self and Society” by Mid-Central Region President, Mrs. Creta Schiermann, National Council President, Dr. Jack Feely and Prasanthi Council Member, Dr. William Harvey. Dr. Harvey shared some vivid recollections of the early days of launching the first Sathya Sai Centers in the St. Louis area. He reminded the audience that the Avatar’s gift of the Sathya Sai International Organization is a powerful tool both for facilitating self-transformation and for contributing to society’s uplift. Dr. Jack Feely shared the opportunity for centers to connect with the community through the new Cultural Inclusion & Expansion Initiative.
A moment was taken to express gratitude to pillars of the Sai community, honored for the time, talent and loving service they had given to the Sai Centers in the Greater St. Louis area for more than 40 years. During break time, the National, Regional and Center officers had the opportunity to discuss organizational issues with Dr. Reddy.
The Inauguration ended with a cultural program by the SSE children, which included a dance depicting nine types of devotion, and a soulful musical concert, jointly presented by Dr. S. Kumar, Mr. Srinivas Eyyunni and Mr. Sai Subramanyam. All present felt their heart and soul filled with love and gratitude for our Lord.
A participant remarked, “The interfaith prayers demonstrated Sathya Sai Baba’s universal teachings with clarity and simplicity and elevated the spirit and the mood of the congregation. We could hear the common thread of Sai Baba’s core message of love and service expressed by the representatives of each of the faith”. Attendees also listened in earnest to the centrality of the Sathya Sai Centers in the life of the SSIO members in their journey of self-transformation. As one attendee put it, “It is a moment of awakening for all of us to spread Sathya Sai Baba’s message of “Love all; Serve all” with great enthusiasm to bring about transformation within ourselves and within society”!
A senior member of the Sathya Sai Center of Greater Saint Louis remarked that the Center in the new locale has numerous opportunities to network and identify the needs of an impoverished neighborhood community. “Our first step was holding the annual ‘Walk for Values’ as part of the City of Bridgeton’s Independence Day parade, where we shared joyfully with the community the message of love, peace and non-violence and the benefits of living a life based on human values. We will now bring these values to the community of Bridgeton even more diligently through further engagement with the community to meet their needs.”