Philanthropists donate $5 million for new interfaith chapel

By: Imogen Francis/Staff Writer


Trish and Dan Bell, long-time community philanthropists, have donated $5 million to build a non-denominational chapel on the Modesto Maidique Campus.

The vision for this project, according to Bell, is to have a shared space for the multiple faith-based organizations to meet, whether together or separately.

“Non-denominational and interfaith chapel that’s clearly a sanctuary in the sense that it’s a place where people can come and consider their faith, think about their faith, contemplate their faith. Maybe for some people it will be a place of renewal or rejuvenation,” Bell said to Student Media.

Labib Ahmed, president of the Muslim Students Association, said that the chapel will be a great addition to campus and will allow the different faith-based organizations to connect better and create more peace at the University.

The association, Ahmed said, is also currently in talks with the Multi-Faith Council about how they can best use the chapel.

“As Muslims, we pray five times a day so we would be using the chapel a lot and we do pray every Friday as well for our mass congregation,” said Ahmed.

Though they are happy to share the space with others during this time, Ahmed said they are open to learning about more religions and getting to know other faith-based groups on campus and the chapel, he said, will be a great place to do this.

At the moment, the MSA reserves a room in the Ocean Bank Convocation Center for their congregations but have been advocating for a bigger prayer room, so when they heard about the chapel they were excited, said Ahmed.

Rabbi Levi Friedman, of Chabad at FIU, an on-campus Jewish organization, also looks forward to the chapel creating a space for students to unify and come together.

“FIU does a great job of meeting the academic needs and the material needs of the students, but there’s room for improvement in regards to meeting their spiritual needs,” Friedman said. “The non-denominational chapel space where faith-based groups and spiritual groups will have the opportunity to be proud of being displayed on campus in a space which people can use to pray or to worship, to reflect, to meditate is something that will significantly enhance student life at FIU.”

The chapel is currently in the early planning stages, and they haven’t made any definitive plans regarding the project, according to Bell.

“This is a new announcement and a new decision, something we have been thinking about but it has just come to fruition,” said Bell.

She said the chapel will not only be for worship, but weddings, anniversaries and celebrations may also be held there.

“I also can envision that the outside of the chapel should be a peaceful attractive place where people can meet with tables and maybe umbrellas, so they can utilize the outside as well as the inside,” said Bell. “We’re very, very excited about it.”


Featured Image credited to Unsplash

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