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Mission and Ministry Opens a New Prayer Room

Three weeks ago, Emmanuel College’s Mission & Ministry opened a new prayer room in Marian 327 for all faculty and students.  Emmanuel’s very own Father John Spencer initiated the creation of this space.

Spencer developed the idea when he went to a conference in Washington for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. While there he was asked, “How many schools do not have a prayer room for interfaith reflection?”

After realizing his school was the only one at the conference without an interfaith prayer room, he made the initiative to create one.

Other individuals within the Emmanuel community had also expressed concern about interfaith at Emmanuel.

“As we started to get more Muslim students, the parents were asking if we were getting a prayer room,” Spencer said.

Furthermore, students who did not belong to a specific faith wanted a quiet place to sit and reflect.

Although the prayer room is now setup, there were a lot of other departments that wanted to use the space for other purposes. However, Sister Janet Eisner and Sister Anne Donovan gave the final approval for the space to be devoted to prayer and reflection purposes.

Emmanuel College is a historically Catholic based school with values surrounding ethics, service, social justice, and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Some individuals have asked what this means for faculty and students who are not of Catholic faith.

Emmanuel’s vision statement supports strong ethical values as Emmanuel aims to prepare students for leadership, purpose, and, global development.  Many faculty, staff, and students have their ideas about how Emmanuel’s support of interfaith tolerance fits into the school’s religious affiliation.

Spencer calls Emmanuel’s support “cutting edge,” and believes the school is pushing towards inter-religious tolerance.

Spencer explained how the Catholic Intellectual Tradition outlines Emmanuel’s vision “to embrace all faiths, because we do share so much in common philosophically and theologically in terms of spirituality.”

Jon Paul Sydnor is an assistant professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Emmanuel, as well as the Muslim Student Association (MSA) advisor.  He agrees that supporting interfaith is an important part of Catholicism, and that religions connections are essential.  Sydnor believes that interfaith communities allow people to learn from each other.

When asked how interfaith relates to Emmanuel’s Catholic identity, he described the Catholic church as global.

“It’s always functioned in relationship to other religions,” said Sydnor. “For example, some of the best colleges in India are Roman Catholic colleges. Of course, Catholics are a very distinct minority in India, but they function as a prominent and successful minority.”

Sydnor explained that the church has been able to function globally by interacting with others of different faiths.

Emmanuel student Maria Ghigliotti ‘20 discussed how interfaith communities extend beyond Emmanuel.

“I believe that this new initiative is important to strengthen ties between different religious communities in a time where tolerance and acceptance isn’t always common,” Ghigliotti said.

Mishaal Khan ‘20 is the MSA president.  Her spirituality and the practice of her Muslim faith has been something that is important to her. However, studying and learning about other religions interests her, because she believes it can help other people understand why people do certain things.

Regarding the prayer room, she thinks it is nice for people to have a place to think and reflect. She also said it is a nice option for people who can not go anywhere else.

In terms of her use of the prayer room Khan said, “Personally, I don’t know how much I’d be using it, but it’s nice to know that I have an option.”

Another student, Tusneem Janoudi ’18, who is a practicing Sunni Muslim, said that she is surprised about Emmanuel’s efforts. She appreciates the school’s decision to include students of all backgrounds.  Janoudi also believes Emmanuel has room to grow.

“I sense that [Emmanuel] is not expressing this inclusion loud enough,” Janoudi said. “”It would be both honorable to its own mission to voice the Catholic Identity, but also to show support for religious diversity to show Boston and other Catholic institutions that, in reality, it is working towards achieving this inclusion.”

Janoudi continued, “I wish students understood that the influence of interfaith inclusivity does not require one to contradict his or her own faith, and even has the potential to allow that faith to grow.”

Hugmaelle Jean is a Staff Writer for The Hub.  She can be contacted at jeanh@emmanuel.edu.

Posted by on December 20, 2017. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.