This fall, Framingham State opened the doors to the Interfaith Prayer and Reflection Center located in G026 of O’Connor Hall.
According to Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sean Huddleston, the center is a space where students and employees have the option to practice the religion they are affiliated with between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Huddleston said this is the first time the University has had an interfaith prayer center, “so it’s a pretty exciting advancement.”
He said, “We had to have something that was religiously neutral because as a public institution, you know, we cannot promote any specific religion, but we want to make sure we are accommodating the religious needs and preferences of our students.”
Huddleston said the space began to take shape last spring at the request of a couple of Muslim students who were looking for an appropriate place to pray on campus.
“In conjunction, we created a place in Banner where students are able to identify their religious affiliation so that we have a better understanding of students’ religion,” said Huddleston.
Of the 165 students who answered the question, 44 percent identified as Catholic, 13 percent as Christian, four percent as Jewish, three percent as Muslim and three percent as Protestant.
“I did a little bit of research on prayer spaces on campuses, and we came up with the concept of having an interfaith and prayer center as a neutral space to accommodate the meditation and prayer needs for students from all different backgrounds,” he said.
According to Huddleston, O’Connor Hall posed the best temporary option for the prayer center. However, that due to the remodeling of O’Connor, the Interfaith Prayer and Reflection Center will eventually be moved to the Henry Whittemore Library.
“As you can imagine, we are a little bit space-challenged, and we wanted to find a place that would accommodate them,” he said.
The prayer room will function through the use of a sign-up sheet. Although signing up is not required, Huddleston said, “There are certain faiths that have to pray at a certain time each day and multiple times each day. One of the most important things to us is that students have the ability to do that without being interrupted by anyone.”
The Ecumenical Center is still available to students according to Huddleston. The Ecumenical Center has served multiple purposes and mainly “resembles a Christian chapel.”
Huddleston said, “We want to make sure it’s not the only option for students. … If you are a person that is not of Christian faith, it is not necessarily a place you would feel comfortable praying.”
Senior Stephen Gillies said, “Especially with all of the stuff that happened last year, people protesting and whatnot, it’s good to have something like that on campus even though no one really knows about it. They should do something to broadcast or market it. It’s good that they have a center for prayer now.”
Junior Alyssa Ross said, “I just think they [administration] should do more advertising for it because I hadn’t heard about until just now. … Also, it’s important that people know it’s for any religion. I like that it’s not specific to any single religion. It’s a neutral space.”
Taynara Justiniano, a senior, said, “I think it will be a good way for people to get away from everything else. People can go in there and do what they need to do and pray to whomever they want. I think it’s a great idea, but I think they need to advertise it more so that people know it’s available to them.”
Senior AJ Crea said, “I think the addition of the Interfaith Prayer and Reflection Center really speaks to Framingham State striving for inclusive excellence. All students are vastly different, and many of us practice various religious beliefs. Framingham State now has an area where students can feel comfortable practicing those beliefs by meditation, prayer and other religious ceremonies.”