cherie 560Justin, Dominique, Cherie and Chloe Laville stand in front of the newly constructed Baha’i House of Worship in Chile, October 2016. Photo submitted

Hub Staff

While sitting on the beach this past summer, Cherie Laville of Port Elgin received the news that she and her family had been chosen to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Baha’i House of Worship in Chile.

After checking online for days, Cherie and her family were ecstatic that they were part of 5,000 Baha'is chosen to make the pilgrimage to Santiago, Chile and be a part of the three day historical event at the newly constructed worship centre.

The temple rests in the foothills of the Andes and has been described as “embodied light”. It, like the Baha’i faith, is open to all and, as a place of worship for all religions, promotes bonds of unity.

Laville said that the completion of the Chilean temple marks a turning point for the Baha’i faith. “This is the final continental house of worship in the world,” said Laville, adding that there are seven other continental houses of worship in Chicago, Panama; Frankfurt, Germany; the Lotus Temple in Delhi, India; Sydney and in the South Pacific Islands on the Island of Samoa is the Mother Temple.

“To be present at the dedication ceremony of the last continental temple is an historical moment that we wanted to be part of and that we wanted our children to experience as well,” said Laville, who has visited the Chicago, Frankfurt and Panama temples.

She said the Chilean temple is a very impressive state-of-the-art structure that was built to last 400 years in a seismically active area.

“One of the most remarkable aspects of the experience was the stunning example of unity in diversity which is the pivotal principle of the Baha’i faith.” Laville said there were 5,000 people from across the globe invited from every race, nationality, age and background with a common purpose, to share a vision of unity for humanity.

When asked why she chose the Baha’i Faith, Laville said that when she was growing up, she didn’t fully understand how various religions could reconcile how each believed that theirs was the only correct path and yet believe in a different God. “The Baha’i Faith was the only world religion that offered me a logical and spiritually satisfying answer – that there is but one God, by whatever name He may be recognized, who has revealed Himself and His will to humanity successively throughout history through various messengers.”

Even though there isn't a specific place of worship nearby, Laville said prayer is a conversation with God that can take place anywhere. The Baha’i Faith does not have churches or clergy.

“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” - Baha’i writings.

The three day inauguration ceremony at the new temple meant something different for each member of the Laville family. “For me, it was the joy of celebrating this milestone in Baha’i history in love and harmony with friends from the various nations of the world. For my husband, it was seeing a living example of genuine unity – a reminder that it is possible despite our differences.” For her children under 12, Laville said it was witnessing the voices in the choir that her daughter will never forget; and for her son, it was being inside the temple, and being moved by the spirit within.

The three day dedication ceremony consisted of various talks and artistic presentations held in the Movistar Arena in Santiago, and finally, the culminating point – the visit to the temple itself and the opportunity to sit under its majestic dome while prayers were recited and chanted in various languages and in melodious tones. Laville said after visiting temples in Chicago, Panama and Frankfurt, this was her most memorable temple experience.

1051 00 560temple 560Photos submitted