St. Ambrose University in Davenport will open a new prayer space Tuesday for Muslim students.
The Catholic university wants to honor Joe DeFrancisco, a former professor who taught a course on world religions.
DeFrancisco died last summer, after a 25-year career at St. Ambrose as a professor of theology.
"At his funeral, there were people from six different faiths," says St. Ambrose senior Matt Mahoney.
Mahoney wanted to make sure DeFrancisco’s legacy of interfaith education lived on. So, he met last fall with the university’s Saudi Student Association to turn an idea of DeFrancisco’s into reality.
"One of his ideas was our Muslim students particularly, but just students of all faiths, didn’t really have a substantial enough prayer rooms on campus."
Mahoney worked with the university's Saudi Student Association to design a space specifically for students of the Islamic faith. Some of the features include sinks for ritual foot-washing, and separate areas for male and female worshippers, since Islamic tradition calls for different prayer areas for each sex.
"Being able to say that we’re committed to these Muslim students, and to all students—students of all different faiths—is really outstanding," said Mahoney. "It’s uniquely Ambrosian, and it just sort of shows our commitment to all different faiths."
The university will hold a dedication ceremony for the prayer space Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. It will be located in Ambrose Hall.