Muslim Mercyhurst Student Who Prayed in Closets Helps Open Interfaith Prayer Room
A new telehealth and prayer room is opening Thursday at Mercyhurst University after a push from one Muslim student who found herself without a place to pray at the Catholic university.
The room allows students of all religions, not just Islam, to have a place for quiet prayer, meditation or simply enjoy some time to themselves.
It's not just for praying; the room also features a computer with a webcam to allow students to take private medical calls.
"I actually prayed in a closet before in this library, even in my friend's dorms," said Shahraban Al-Maleki, a Muslim sophomore student at Mercyhurst. "It's really struggling for me to keep on with my faith on time, especially that I'm here almost 24/7, even though I'm a commuter. I'm here because I am involved in so many things. Opening this room has just been truly an honor because we needed this."
Al-Maleki also serves as the first Muslim student ambassador for Mercyhurst.
The room came after Tessa Sayre, who works with Al-Maleki in the library, noticed her having to pray in isolated places. Sayre received $500 from Mercyhurt's Diversity. Equity, Inclusion, and Justice grant to renovate a room in the library for students to pray, meditate, and even take health calls.
"I sought out the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Grant given to us by the Office of Mission," said Sayre. "And they allowed us to have this room and equipped with all the things that different students of different faiths might need in order to have prayer time."
Mercyhurst administration are glad to give a space for all students.
"We're here to form the whole person, mind, body and spirit," said Greg Baker, Vice President for Mission at Mercyhurst.
"We have students who come from a great range of backgrounds. Not all of them are Catholic and Christian. And this is especially important that they have a space to come and reflect. They have a space like this they know is theirs, that they can come to you privately and kind of come on their own terms in their own time. So I'm really excited really happy for this."
Students are able to reserve times for individual prayer using the QR code on the door.