OMNIA grieves the passing of the Rev. Dirk Ficca (66) on Tuesday, December 21st, after a prolonged illness. He was the Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions from 1995 – 2012, leading the organization through three Parliament convenings: Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne (2009). He was most recently the Executive Director of the Twin Cities’ Social Cohesion Initiative in Minnesota, and the Senior Advisor to the World of Neighbours Initiative, based in Malmo, Sweden. A long-term resident of Oak Park, Illinois, Dirk leaves behind his wife Lynda, and two sons, Dillon and Connor.

The Rev. Dirk Ficca

“I knew Dirk since the 1993 Parliament in Chicago” said Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, president of OMNIA. “I went to the Barcelona and Melbourne Parliaments primarily because of Dirk’s invitation. He was always supportive of the work I did in the ecumenical world, both at the National Council of Churches, USA and the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. He helped me to think of ways for these church networks to participate in the world of interfaith relations, and to engage in the work of the Parliament. Upon my return to Chicago, primarily because of Dirk's invitation I served on the Parliament’s Board of Trustees for six years. When OMNIA came into being five years ago, Dirk provided much counsel and support, for which, I am very grateful.”

Dr. Larry Greenfield, chair of OMNIA’s board of directors, who subsequent to Rev. Ficca, served as the Executive Director of the Parliament said, "Dirk leaves an indelible mark on the global interfaith movement. His example to always be in mode of learning from the religious others, to deeply and empathically listen, and engage in ways that affirmed the others’ journey is one that generations of practitioners of interfaith relations should try to follow.”

Dr. Mary Nelson, who followed Rev. Ficca as Executive Director of the Parliament also served as a faculty member of SCUPE (OMNIA’s former organization) and continues as an Advisory Board member of OMNIA. Several leaders of the Parliament serve on OMNIA's Advisory Board as well.

Funeral and memorial service announcements will be made later and will be posted at OMNIA’s Facebook site when available.

 

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Shanta Premawardhana

President

Shanta Premawardhana is president of OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership. Prior to OMNIA, he served as the Director for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. He was also the Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations at the National Council of Churches, USA. While serving as pastor of Ellis Avenue Church in Chicago, he engaged in community organizing in the Southside of Chicago. He is an emeritus trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, National Council of Churches, USA, and Common Cause Illinois. He earned his Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

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