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Letters: Hartman reached out to help Muslims

Msgr. Thomas J. Hartman, seen on June 21,

Msgr. Thomas J. Hartman, seen on June 21, 2011, was a towering figure in the Diocese of Rockville Centre who gained national fame as half of a priest and rabbi duo bringing a message of interfaith understanding to millions. Hartman died Feb. 16, 2016. He was 69. Newsday's obituary for Monsignor Thomas Hartman
Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

We completely agree, as Bishop William Murphy said, that Msgr. Thomas Hartman “was more available to more people day and night” [“He was there for everybody,” News, Feb. 21].

We can vouch as Muslims that he was equally available for Muslims of Long Island, as much as other communities.

The Long Island Muslim community in general and Islamic Center of Long Island in particular mourn the loss of a very dear friend and supporter in Hartman.

During the height of the Bosnian conflict in the mid-1990s, Father Tom responded to our request for help. He led a bus full of activists of all faiths to Washington and arranged a hearing in Congress. Members heard the firsthand testimony of a Bosnian refugee who had somehow survived the Serbian concentration camp.

This was an all-day event, and we experienced firsthand Father Tom’s compassion, humor, sensitivity and, most of all, organizing ability. Afterward, our group prayed at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

After 9/11, Father Tom called and said he didn’t like the way Muslims were being shown on TV. He asked to show the community the real face of Muslims. This led to the program on Telecare, “Our Muslim Neighbors,” with Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman as hosts. More than 20 half-hour programs were aired on Telecare, addressing commonly asked questions about Muslims.

Many Long Island Muslims helped establish the Hartman Foundation and actively participated in the events organized after Father Tom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

We need more Father Toms to make this world a better place.

Habeeb and Seemi Ahmed, Albertson

 

I am 62, and I remember Thomas Hartman when I was 17 and he was 24.

Father Tom was just out of the seminary and was bowling in a league at Plainview Bowl, where I worked at the snack counter. I remember him walking in in street clothes, and I commented to one of the waitresses that he was so handsome. She responded that he was her parish priest.

It turns out he was more than handsome. He was very kind, soft-spoken and charismatic. I sensed he was headed for greatness by helping many people.

I feel honored that I met him.

Linda Boyce, Dix Hills

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