Religious or otherwise, staff and students from all walks of life are welcome at the Faith Centre. Although situated on Peel Park campus, I’m still not convinced enough of us know about it and why it is worth a visit.
The Faith Centre is a place to practice your religion, a quiet space to study, a great social space to meet new people and to be around a welcoming family atmosphere. Adam from our recruitment team had the pleasure of interviewing the chaplains to find out what the Faith Centre is all about and why it’s such an important staple to the university, read on to find out more…
“The Faith Centre is for all faiths and none”, says Sister Teresa Wild, Catholic Chaplain who has worked at the University for over twenty years. “We welcome everybody on their own level, as people come with different needs and expectations, and we hope that they feel welcome too.”
It certainly is a welcoming place, and although tucked away on University Road, there is no doubt that the Faith Centre is at the heart of many of our staff and students’ lives.
“The Faith Centre is a meeting point for ideas, information, and friendship. It’s so important to facilitate friendships on campus”, smiles Sister Teresa. Rabbi Danny Bergson agrees: “Even those of no faith will find a great space to get away from the hubbub of university life”.
What is evident from spending time with the Faith Centre, is the genuine joy the various chaplains have working there, and working collaboratively. Although multi-faith, it is very much a team effort. “Monday is my favourite day of the week”, says Reverend Helen Tomlinson, whose previous experience includes working as chaplain at The Christie, “as this is the time when we are all in the building together”. And as the stories flow, this alliance becomes evident, such as Imam Rashid Musa hosting social events for staff and students over the Christmas break. This is, after all, the “busy period” for Reverend Helen.
“The Faith Centre is the only building open every day of the year”, says Imam Rashid, “and on 25 December we have a Christmas Day social. We had an international student from the USA, and she told us how her family would be all together to celebrate Christmas. Living in her halls of residence, she didn’t know what she would wake up to. She decided to come to the Faith Centre and she found an additional family here to celebrate with. It really made her Christmas special”
This is the absolute ethos running through the Faith Centre, and for international students a long way from home, it provides a vital support network.
“The Faith Centre gives our international community a meeting place, especially if they are a little homesick or out of their depth when they first arrive. Faith is familiar, and we are here to help provide whatever we can, or at least direct them to the relevant people if we can’t provide something directly”, says Sister Teresa. And it is not just the initial welcome, but a lifelong connection that stays with our students.
Sister Teresa recalls a Botswanan student who had discovered the Faith Centre in his master’s year. “He graduated and went back home, but several years later his face appeared in the doorway. It was him again, he had come to do a PhD. It was great that he had come to find us, that the friendship was still there, and that has happened so many times.”
Of course, the personal connections that are made at the Faith Centre are pivotal, but it would be impossible not to appreciate the time and effort which has gone into making the facilities something to rival universities across the UK.
Alongside private prayer and group worship facilities, there are spaces for personal reflection, social activities, pastoral support and relaxation. “We regularly get representatives from other universities coming to have a look at our facilities, and this shows that we are ahead when it comes to faith services in the UK”, says Imam Rashid.
A truly special place – for all faiths and none – it is highly worth visiting to see for yourself. If for nothing else, Reverend Helen makes a wonderful brew!
Additionally, societies are a great way to get out there and meet new people – there are even religious societies available. Remember – as a Salford student you are free to create your own society, so if you have any ideas, why not give it a go?