By Mirishahe Beha staff writer
St. John Fisher Campus Ministry has both new office space and plans for new services creating programs with the Muslim community and Jewish community on campus.
These two programs would be called the Muslim Student Association and Jewish Student Outreach. Campus Ministry may collaborate with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity on making these programs active, as the Muslim Student Association was created in the past but has not been active recently.
With their new space in the Campus Center, Father Kevin Mannara, Sarah Mancini-Goebert and Jonathan Schott have created an environment for students to have a quiet place, eat a snack, do homework, to ask questions about anything, and to pray no matter their religious affiliation. “At St. John Fisher College, there are 47 self-identified Jewish students and 67 who have been self-identified as Muslim,” says Schott.
Because of that, Campus Ministry is not just about being Catholic; it is about respecting all other faiths. Resources exist for everyone, such as the Interfaith Room where all students can go to pray however they wish and is not exclusive to any one faith. “I find that interfaith work helps people to further refine their own belief systems,” said Father Mannara.
Staff also provide transportation to mosques or synagogues to Muslim and Jewish students who ask. Campus Ministry encourage students to ask questions so that they can support Fisher students. Mancini-Goebert said, “We’re an office of the college and it is our responsibility to take care of the spiritual need of every student on campus.”
Every week Campus Ministry sends weekly emails called Campus Ministry Minute to inform students about the Interfaith room, Mass times, volunteer activities, fun social activities, and anything else they would like to update students on.
Starting the programs for Muslim and Jewish students all comes down to students showing interest in establishing these programs by asking Diversity and Ministry for help and information to run these programs.
“Our role is to empower the students, not to tell them what should be meaningful to them,” says Father Mannara.