January 30, 2014
Communications and Marketing
Campus Ministry celebrated the opening of the college's first-ever multifaith prayer room today on the lower level of the Cushing Center, giving students and the Saint Anselm community of all faiths a quiet, private space for prayer.
Fr. Anselm Smedile, O.S.B., the assistant director of Campus Ministry, offered the invocation with a prayer based on the writings of Pope Benedict XVI.
"O God of peace and understanding, hear the prayers of your people and look upon this space, a place of quiet and stillness in the midst of the daily life and activity of Saint Anselm College," Fr. Anselm said, "and set it apart so that all who enter may worship you according to their conscience."
Campus Ministry Director Susan Gabert said the prayer room is not meant to alter the identify of the college as a Catholic institution. Rather, it was built in the welcoming spirit of the Benedictine tradition that the college was founded on.
"This space serves to welcome a multitude of religious voices," said Gabert, "because as we grow as a college and as a community it is important to understand the religious traditions of everyone with whom we interact."
The idea for the space arose through a combination of a recent survey that identified the need for prayer space for students of non-Catholic faiths as well as ongoing discussions with students and colleagues from schools in the region. Minimally decorated with religious mosaics, wall sconces, a shelf for various religious texts, and a washbasin with running water for cleansing of the feet, the room's seeming lack of design was intentional. Gabert says the minimalist approach makes the space more accommodating for people of all faiths. She also hopes the room will develop into something more substantial in the future.
While anyone in the community will be able to use the room for prayer, Gabert is planning various religious programs including interfaith dialogues, meditation groups, Muslim prayer time, and bible study sessions.