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A place to pray

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The University of Calgary celebrated the grand opening of the new Multi-Faith Prayer Centre and Chapel Wed., Sept. 20.

Located on the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre, the MFPC is a facility designed especially for students seeking religious and spiritual guidance and solitude.

According to United/Presbyterian chaplain Tim Nethercott, it is designed as a place of sanctuary where everyone, regardless of faith, can come and spend time observing spiritual silence.

"Not only does it cater to the major religious denominations," he said. "But, it is even set up for those in the spiritual community who do not wish to follow any particular religion."

Nethercott said the MFPC now has four mediation rooms to cater to those students who wish to better themselves through personal meditation.

To help make the facility suitable to everyone, designers intentionally discarded all religious symbols, images and icons. This way, there is no possibility of singling out any one particular religion, which may cause offence to someone of another faith.

"The only religious effects within the new MFPC are the new cleansing stations catered towards those who practice Islam, and the prayer rugs that point towards Mecca," said Pentecostal chaplain and associate director of the MFPC, Kelly Johnson.

The MFPC will not only accommodate students seeking spiritual solitude and reflection, but can also act as a gateway for those who are in need of religious or spiritual direction.

"We all have experience and understanding in all the major religions," said Nethercott. "We can help anyone when it comes to spiritual guidance."

The MFPC is a joint project between the U of C and the Students' Union, and has incurred a final price tag beyond $1 million.

"There was an increasing understanding over the last six years that our campus was becoming more diverse," said Johnson. "The space we have now is a response to feedback from students about the inability to find quiet space for religious observances and development for their spiritual selves." Johnson added he is pleased the university and the SU are working to provide a holistic approach to inner development.

Christian Reform chaplain Paul Verhoef encourages everyone to come by and check out the new facility.

"We wish the students would come and use this space," he said. "And if any student group wishes to use it as well, they are more than welcome to."

The MFPC is now open from 8 a.m.to 8 p.m.

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