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Focus on world issues

The Network of Religious Communities, the area's largest interfaith organization, will present a special series of programs beginning Thursday in Diefendorf Hall in the South Campus of the University at Buffalo.

The series is "Building Community Together: Muslims, Jews and Christians in Historical Spain" and will focus on the lessons that can be taken from the medieval time in Spain when those three religious groups co-existed peacefully.

The opening session, at 7 p.m. Thursday, features Chris Lowney, scholar and former Jesuit seminarian. Lowney's newest book, "A Vanished World: Medieval Spain's Golden Age of Enlightenment," is due out early next year.

Other sessions will be held at 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday and at 4 p.m. Sunday at various spots in Western New York. Call the Network of Religious Communities office for details, 882-4793.

Training in Buddhism

Buddhist teaching and meditation, sponsored by the Amitabha Foundation, is being offered from 5 to 7 p.m. Sundays at 273 Lehn Springs Drive in Williamsville. Beginners and practitioners at all levels are welcome.

Call 633-0948 for details.

Retreat offered

The Center of Renewal is offering an overnight retreat Friday on "Your Spiritual Autobiography" to help participants "connect the dots" of their own faith journey.

The retreat will be led by the Rev. Carole Grant White, an Episcopal priest. It begins at 7 p.m. and continues through lunchtime Saturday at the center, 4421 Lower River Road, at Stella Niagara.

A $69 fee covers overnight accommodations, materials and meals.

Participants are asked to bring Bibles, music, photos and any other symbols significant in their faith journey. Preregistration is required. For details, call the center at 754-7376.

For Catholic women

Magnificat, a ministry to Catholic women, holds its next breakfast from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Saturday in Samuel's Grande Manor, 8750 Main St., Clarence.

The Rev. A. Mark Illig, pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Bowmansville, will be the guest speaker. Illig is widely known for his healing Masses.

Call 773-3834 for reservations or details.

Advice for holidays

Father Michael Burzynski, pastor of St. Mary of the Cataract parish, will offer comfort and practical advice for people who are dreading the holiday season because of a death in the family, divorce, serious illness or some other personal tragedy. The session will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in St. Benedict Church, Main Street at Eggert Road, Amherst. Information on annulments, bereavement, coping with cancer and answers to tough questions will be available after the talk. No cost. No reservations required. For more information, call 565-2525.

Concert planned

The Festival Chorus of Western New York will present a holiday concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the First Baptist Church of Elma, 1301 Bowen Road, Elma.

Everyone is invited, and the concert will be followed by fellowship and refreshments with the chorus members. For more information, call 652-7349.

Temple hosts comedian

Rabbi Bob Alper, a stand-up comedian, is making a return to the Buffalo area for a performance at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Temple Beth Am, 4660 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville.

Alper, who performs nearly 100 times per year, has been seen on Showtime, Extra, Comedy Central, CNN's American Morning and Good Morning America.

He is well-known in Western New York. He served as an assistant and associate rabbi at Buffalo's Temple Beth Zion from 1972 to 1978, prior to embarking on his comedy routine.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and $18 for seniors. Call 633-8877 for details.

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