Saint Mary’s College of California offers prayer room that “is intentionally minimalist” to make it welcoming and appropriate for various faith traditions
“Furnished [i.e., paid for – not decorated with furniture and religious artifacts] with a grant from the Institute for Catholic[sic] Thought, Culture and Action”
DECEMBER 12, 2016 BY CAL-CATHOLIC ADMIN
Kate Arenchild, a Lasallian peer minister for fair trade, and Roshun Rahimi, a student involved in Mission and Ministry, greet each other at the dedication of the Interfaith Sacred Space on the Saint Mary’s College campus in Moraga.
The following comes from a December 12 Catholic Voice article by Michele Jurich:
A small space that has served, over the years, as the pastor’s office, a reconciliation room and the office of an Episcopal parish-without-walls that worships on the Saint Mary’s College of California campus, has been dedicated as an Interfaith Sacred Space to provide a place of prayer for students, faculty and staff members who might have otherwise sought out the rare, vacant classroom for prayer.
The Office of Mission and Ministry shepherded the project with input from students that was dedicated Oct. 5. The cozy space can be entered through the back of Saint Mary’s Chapel or through a door on the arcade facing the front of the campus. It is simply furnished, with a small chest to hold texts; a basket, which on a recent visit, held three prayer rugs; a rug; and pillows soften the space. The lighting is low. A digital clock in the corner displays the times Muslims are called to prayer; the clock is a gift from a faculty family. A small water fountain provides a backdrop. It’s a tranquil spot on a bustling campus.
The room is intentionally minimalist, said Karin McClelland, director of the Office of Mission and Ministry, to make it welcoming and appropriate for various faith traditions.
While 153-year-old Saint Mary’s College once might have been close to 100 percent Catholic, today’s student body defines itself as more diverse in religious beliefs and practices. At the dedication of the Interfaith Sacred Space, for example, blessings were offered by representatives of seven faith traditions.
The hope is that in addition to sacred space — which was furnished with a grant from the Bishop John S. Cummins Institute for Catholic Thought, Culture and Action — there will be opportunities for people of various faith traditions to “gather around issues of social justice,” McClelland said.
Saint Mary’s College chaplain. Rev. Hai Ho, a Conventual Franciscan, noted the dedication of the Interfaith Sacred Space took place on Oct. 5, just a day after the Feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is considered a model for interreligious dialogue.