'A Sacred Space' for BC Community

'A Sacred Space' for BC Community

One year along, 66 Comm Ave. worship space is drawing praise

(Photo by Mike Mergen)

(Photo by Justin Knight)

(Photo by Lee Pellegrinni)
A year after its opening, the multi-faith worship space at the 66 Commonwealth Avenue residence hall is winning praise across campus from religious groups and other organizations that use the room.

"What I like most about the space is that its shape is very prayerful," said Campus Minister for Liturgical Arts Katherine Leavey, director of the Liturgical Arts Group. "I think that when the students are in there they get a sense that they are in a sacred space."

Campus Minister Rev. Howard McLendon, leader of Black Campus Ministry and United in Christ, agreed. "The worship space is important to groups like mine because before it was opened, we didn't have any area dedicated for religious activity. It has been very important in the life of non-Catholic groups on campus."

Other groups who have used the space at various times during its first year of operation include the South Asian Student Association, Boston College Hillel, the Muslim Students Association and the Christian evangelical group Young Life. The room also hosts one class offering instruction in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and another for meditation.

A "typical" week in the life of the multi-faith worship space in the 66 Commonwealth Avenue residence hall: Above, Campus Minister for Liturgical Arts Katherine Leavey directs the Liturgical Arts Group at a rehearsal; right, Campus Minister Rev. Howard McLendon sings during a meeting of the Black Campus Ministry; below, members of the University community participate in an observance of Diwali, the Hindu New Year, led by Bairavasundaram Muthubattar of Sri Lakshmi Temple in Ashland (foreground).

"Boston College wants to help students, faculty and staff to practice their faiths here on campus," said Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ. "It is at the core of our identity to support each other's religious beliefs."

Plans for the space grew out of a series of discussions arranged by the offices of University Mission and Ministry and Campus Ministry with faculty members and students representing different faiths, who said a place of worship was needed for non-Catholic groups.

After several months of renovating an unused meeting area on the first floor of 66 Comm Ave., the worship space was formally dedicated last Nov. 3. The carpeted, redbrick room can accommodate approximately 30 people and is outfitted with moveable furniture and storage areas for songbooks and religious materials. Large windows that overlook a grass courtyard line the room, and a series of skylights provide further illumination.

"It's the simplicity of the space that makes it especially appealing," said College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program faculty member Adj. Lect. Susan Mattis, who leads a Buddhist meditation and discussion group that makes use of the space several times per week. "The skylights provide natural light and it's an extremely peaceful place."

-Stephen Gawlik


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