Dr. Terry Nichols (R-L): Dr. Nichols, Dr. Ozdemir, Dr. Badawi, Siddiqui

Minnesota lost a great pioneer in interfaith relations. Dr. Terry Nichols, a professor of theology, the founder and co-director of the Muslim Christian Dialogue Center (MCDC) at the University of St. Thomas, passed away on Saturday, April 12, 2014. It is hard to express the sense of loss in words. Terry has been a great colleague, friend, and advisor.

I first met Terry at an interfaith gathering almost a decade ago. His sincere, affable, and humble personality immediately had a strong impact on me. Having studied in a Catholic school since I was in preschool, I have great memories of interacting with some wonderful representatives of the Catholic community, and Terry reminded me of them.

Terry's efforts at the MCDC at the University of St. Thomas were phenomenal. As a member of the advisory board of the MCDC, I had the good fortune of seeing this center develop into a hub of Catholic-Muslim relations over the years. I am impressed by the great progress the center has made under Terry's leadership, and MCDC's co-director, Dr. Adil Ozdemir. The center held several events, seminars, conferences, and dialogues involving Muslims and Christians.

Attending the quarterly meetings of the advisory board was something I greatly looked forward to. Terry reached out to the local Muslim community with great sincerity and genuine friendship. I am already reading the messages of condolences pouring in from Minnesota Muslims on the death of this great friend of the community.

When the Islamic Resources Group (IRG) initiated the "Building Bridges Awards" project several years ago, it was an easy decision to choose the person who would receive the first award in the interfaith category- Terry.

Terry's reassuring presence at meetings was greatly valued. The fresh ideas, the sincere efforts toward finding a common ground between Muslims and Catholics, lending an ear to others, were all the hallmarks of Terry's contributions at interfaith gatherings. Terry had no hesitation in endorsing Pope John Paul II's views on Catholic-Muslim relations.

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the World Interfaith Harmony Dinner at the United Theological Seminary with Terry. I did not know that it would be the last time I would see him. I am glad I got a chance to have dinner with him, pray for his health, and we even discussed plans to further strengthen Muslim-Catholic relations.

I will never forget Terry's friendship. Friends like him are rare to find. Terry leaves behind shoes too big to fill. May God give patience to Terry's family and friends during this difficult time. We are in distress over this huge loss and reflecting on the amazing legacy Terry leaves behind.‎

His obituary and funeral notice can be found at this link.