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Muslim prayer room opens in Catholic high school

17 September 2012 General 8 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Ana Paula Fernandes stands in what will soon become a Muslim prayer room at the Catholic school in London. DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency

Ana Paula Fernandes stands in what will soon become a Muslim prayer room at the Catholic school in London. DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency

LONDON, ONT. – Mother Teresa Catholic secondary school is turning a second-floor office into an Islamic prayer room — the first high school in the city, private or public, to do so.

Carpet will soon cover the tile flooring, speakers will be installed and prayer mats purchased to provide the school’s Muslim students, estimated at around two dozen, with a quiet and private place to pray.

The idea has been in the works since the end of the last school year after a group of Muslim students lobbied administration to create the space.

“They’re members of our school community. We want to ensure that all our students feel welcome, that they feel that they belong,” said Principal Ana Paula Fernandes.

The prayer room, expected to be completed by the end of September, is located on a busy stretch on the second floor, just metres from the school’s large chapel.

“That was very important to ensure that it was included in the main building, and not tucked away somewhere,” Fernandes said.

Grade 12 student Amir Farhi, 17, was part of the group that led the push for the prayer room.

“We do have quite a bit of Muslims in this school who find it hard to practice their religion,” he said. “Having this prayer room, it’s easy for them to do their Friday prayers.”

Though Muslims pray facing Mecca, Saudi Arabia, five times a day, the room will mainly be used Fridays, the holiest day of the week in Islam.

Administration and students are working with a local imam, a leader of Islamic worship services, to create guidelines governing use of the room.

“We just want to come together as a community, exchange our beliefs, sharing our ideas and helping grow this school with its values,” said Farhi, who applauded school officials for moving so quickly to create the room.

While baptism is a requirement to attend Catholic elementary schools, students of any faith can enrol at Catholic secondary schools.

No figure is available on how many of Mother Teresa’s 1,400 students are non-Catholic, but Fernandes said the school’s diverse population is one of its strengths.

The prayer room will also foster tolerance and understanding of different religions among non-Muslim students, Fernandes added.

“It certainly is meant to strengthen the sense of community and the sense of respect . . . for one’s peers and the community at large.”

dale.carruthers@sunmedia.ca

Original post: Muslim prayer room opens in Catholic high school

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8 Comments »

  1. You wouldn’t see Christians going into a Muslim school demanding they be accomodated with a special room and a priest.

  2. Charter schools of any kind are a source of scandal stories.

  3. Cool, so in a catholic school they have a special room where msulims can deny the catholic faith. Do any muslim schools have special rooms where people are expected to denounce islam as being wrong?

  4. Is it really necessary to criticise this step? I feel this is a wonderful thing which has been achieved. It takes one step at a time and it should be a proud thing for all christains that a catholic school took the first step.

  5. strange for catholics. they are tied to their doctrine so tightly.

    [9.31] They have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and (also) the Messiah son of Marium and they were enjoined that they should serve one God only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what they set up (with Him).

  6. Muslims all over the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, want to congratulate and thank you.

  7. Previously Christians and Jews were always given time and space to practise their faith in a Muslim town/country go read history. At the moment Christians don’t go to Muslim schools to study do they?

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