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A Dream That Would Not Be Denied
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A Dream That Would Not Be Denied

The dream of the Tolerance Resource Center began in the mind of Margaret Kocevar. When she passed away in 1996, progress on the Center stopped… but only temporarily.

In reality, Maggie’s vision was bigger than any one person. It was no surprise when three devoted staff members captured her vision, picking up where she left off to take the Tolerance Resource Center from dream to reality: Sr. Mary Louise Trivison, Rachel Morris, and Karen Zoller.

Sr. Mary Louise Trivison had already been on the Notre Dame College faculty since 1964 as an instructor of Spanish and theology. She was, and continues to be, deeply involved with inter-faith initiatives and activities. It was natural for her to be on the team that brought the TRC to fruition.

Sr. Mary Louise has been a champion of Catholic/Jewish relations for many years. As long ago as 1979, she presented and published a paper (titled “Prayer and Prejudice in the Cantigas de Santa Maria,”) which examines “the life, laws, and customs regarding Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Spain.” The research, which she conducted in Spain, was funded by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and subsequently published in “El Olivo,” the journal of the Center for Jewish/Christian Studies in Madrid.

She is respected in the Greater Cleveland community for helping build bridges among diverse people of faith. She has worked with the Diocesan Inter-Faith Council for many years, conducting community programs that bring together people of faith to meet, discuss, and learn about each other in an atmosphere of mutual understanding. Last year Notre Dame College, American Jewish Committee and the Catholic Interfaith Commission presented the series, Three Faiths: One God, which met six times in the Performing Arts Center. According to Sr. Mary Louise, “We had a wonderful program of sharing among Jews, Muslims and Catholics... The efforts of all three of the groups helped to bring about better understanding and respect for other people in their lives.”

Sr. Mary Louise was honored as runner-up for the Annual Peacemaker of the Year Award by Northcoast Conflict Solutions last year. She believes that the “essential element of being a peacemaker is respect for the other. That respect opens the door to building or creating the possibility of working toward living with others in a positive way and building a society that wishes to make our world a better place.”

Rachel Morris worked with Maggie from the very start of the dream. She continued her work on the TRC, not only because of her own passion for furthering tolerance and social justice, but also to honor Maggie’s memory. According to Morris, Maggie proposed the idea of the Center to the College administration, but Maggie passed away and the project stalled. One year after Maggie’s passing, her boyfriend found a grant proposal for the establishment of the Tolerance Resource Center on Maggie’s computer. It was revised and finally submitted to Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation in 1999. Sadly, the funding did not materialize.

Morris brought an additional dimension to the Center: artistic components to enhance TRC educational programs. She has collaborated with the Cleveland community and worked tirelessly to produce art shows that help the viewers visualize the concept of tolerance and respect for cultures and faiths other than one’s own. She worked with the local Italian Cultural Foundation to organize an exhibit of Holocaust-themed art by Mary Costanza in 2001 and coordinated the 2003 art installation by Native American artist and activist Charlene Teters.

There can be no research center, of course, unless there is a place for teachers, students, and scholars to do their research. That’s where Karen Zoller stepped in. As library director, she committed her time and talent to the physical aspects of the TRC. She carved out the second-floor space, collected the printed and recorded materials, organized and catalogued the collection. NDC alumna, Ellen Kynkor ‘83, referred Zoller and Morris to her employer, National City Bank, for furnishings it was liquidating during downsizing. It was our good fortune to be the recipient of the furniture.

Zoller has continued to be an integral part of the TRC triumvirate, building the physical Center and being involved in all the event-planning.

Over the years, these three dedicated women have helped fulfill Maggie Kocevar’s dream. They have planned conferences for teachers of the Holocaust. They have brought in noteworthy speakers, survivors, and scholars for educators and the general population to hear. They have presented art shows, exhibits, and theatrical and dance performances that enrich the educational programs. Because of their work, Notre Dame can look forward to many more years of thought-provoking educational and artistic programs produced by the Tolerance Resource Center.

Mary Ann Kovach is the director of public relations at Notre Dame College.

All Things Being Equal… 

The Tolerance Resource Center is pleased to welcome award winning playwright Faye Sholiton back to Notre Dame for a staged reading of her production All Things Being Equal.

Faye SholitonThe play, inspired by an actual U.S. Supreme Court case, centers on two teachers caught up in a difficult situation when their school board is forced to lay one of them off. When the selection is made, it is revealed that the decision is based solely on race.

Staged readings of All Things Being Equal have been held at theaters across Northeast Ohio as well as at the Soho Theater in London, England. The play has been honored as a semi-finalist in the 2005 Playlabs at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and received and Honorable Mention in the 2005 Writers’ Digest awards.

Sholiton previously worked with the Tolerance Resource Center to premiere her award winning play The Interview, at Notre Dame College in 1998.

The staged reading of All Things Being Equal will be held in the College’s Performing Arts Center on February 2 at 7:30 p.m. and February 3 at 2:00 p.m. and again on February 9 and 10 at 7:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. respectively. This free performance is open to the public.