Donna Crisafulli
 

Last Look

The Interfaith Center
Building Bridges, Creating Community

Some Interfaith Center visitors seek out the new meditation and prayer room, which contains Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim texts and sacred objects. Others celebrate special occasions at the center; a bar mitzvah and a wedding were held there in 2012.

Timothy Furgal, B.A.’07, reconnected with Roman Catholicism there last summer. Then a graduate student “trying to find a quiet place to meditate,” he “wandered into The Interfaith Center.” Soon, “I started to invest myself in my faith again,” said Furgal, who earned a degree in English.

“The Interfaith Center has strengthened my convictions and helped me gain confidence. Donna [Crisafulli, Interfaith Center executive director]; [Catholic Campus Minister] Cathy [Reid]; and the center have provided me so much this past year. I can only hope to do as much for them someday.”

While majoring in globalization studies, Samantha Leuschner, B.A.’12, initially resisted joining a campus faith group. At the invitation of Nicole Lopez, B.A.’09, M.S.’11, whom she would succeed as Newman Association president, she began attending Mass at The Interfaith Center, which became “my home away from home.”

The center also broadened Leuschner’s “knowledge and experience” of other religions. She participated in Ramadan observances, Faith Sharing talks and the Unity Dinner. Helping Crisafulli to create the center’s meditation and prayer room – a “joyous and exciting” experience – underscored Leuschner’s conviction that “there is something special about The Interfaith Center.”

The Interfaith Center has strengthened my convictions and helped me gain confidence. -Timothy Furgal, B.A.'07

Senior biology major Kamilla Hussein, who sometimes visits the center to pray and read the Qur’an, agrees. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) president appreciates the “sense of peace and unity that emanates from The Interfaith Center and brings us together with people from all different backgrounds.” Through “fast-a-thons,” members of other faiths “fast and break the fast with us.” A Faith Sharing program featured “our faculty adviser, Sohaib Chekima of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, who spoke about his journey to Islam.” Events such as the upcoming Muslim-Jewish Peace Walk also “celebrate religious tolerance,” Hussein observed.

The Albany Collegiate Interfaith Center was incorporated in 1966 “to provide a space for students, faculty and staff to nurture and/or discover their own spirituality and to come together to explore and learn about other faith traditions,” said Crisafulli. Students also gather at the center to plan programs that assist others and to socialize.

With The Interfaith Center’s 50th anniversary approaching, Crisafulli hopes to be able to add staff and programming. Renovations to the kosher and non-kosher kitchens, technology and lighting improvements, and library materials are also on her wish list.

Groups on and off campus may rent Interfaith Center space for various events. A sliding scale of charges applies, with priority scheduling accorded UAlbany students, faculty and staff.

For more information, contact Crisafulli at dcrisafulli@albany.edu or 518-489-8573, Ext. 21.