Prayer and Reflection Room opens at Alvernia University


Dedicated on Oct. 29, a new “Prayer and Reflection Room” at Alvernia University creates an intimate space in the center of campus for people of all faith to gather. The room is located inside the Frank A. Franco Library Learning Center’s Bonaventure Room.

More than 75 people from a variety of faiths gathered to take part in an official dedication and blessing ceremony for the new interfaith space in the university’s library.

Photo: Shainline

Kevin Shainline '15

Alumnus Kevin Shainline ’15, returned to talk about his role — as last year’s Fromm Scholar — in conceptualizing a space on campus for students to reflect and gather. Now a trainee in Penske Truck Leasing’s management program, Shainline was very active in volunteerism and leadership as a student. In addition to his work as a Fromm Scholar, he worked with kids in the South Reading Youth Initiative, led mission trips with the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters and participated in every Day of Service held during his four years at Alvernia. His idea for a reflection space was furthered by a Campus Ministry team at the university that chose the Library’s Bonaventure Room for its distinctive location and mission connection.

Joining Shainline at the podium was theology major Mackenzie Bartlett ’17, who discussed the importance of the new space to students of all faiths. As the current Fromm Scholar at Alvernia, Bartlett is tasked with furthering interfaith programming and to help promote religious literacy at the university.

Photo: Fromm

Michael Fromm

In addition, Michael Fromm, Nora Elmarzouky, and Alvernia President Tom Flynn shared personal experiences that shaped their understanding about the importance of interfaith discussion — both on campus and in the greater community. The Elmarzouky and Fromm families were instrumental in funding the room’s construction.

“I was fortunate as a child and as a young adult to have close friends who introduced me (and later Helen) to their Jewish traditions,” said Flynn. “Personal experiences like this sensitize us to the backgrounds of others — both our differences and those values we hold in common. But genuine interfaith effort requires a deep, ongoing commitment to respectful mutual understanding.”

“As a ‘Distinctive Franciscan University,’ rooted in the tradition of Catholic higher education, Alvernia embraces students, staff and faculty from diverse backgrounds and faiths and seeks to support their personal and spiritual development,” said Flynn. “We also feel privileged to work actively with many in our local community to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding. Made possible by the generous support of the Fromm and Elmarzouky families, our new Prayer and Reflection Room provides another visible way for the Alvernia community to live out our mission.”

Photo: Elmarzouky

Nora Elmarzouky

To complete the ceremony, members of an interfaith chaplaincy team dedicated the room. Rev. Marsha Anderson offered a reflection, Rubina Tareen shared a reading from the Quran, Rev. Ron Bowman read the poem, “Desiderata,” by Max Ehrmann. Also in attendance were Monsignor John Mraz of the Allentown Diocese, and Rabbi Brian Michelson of the Oheb Shalom congregation who offered a prayer.

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