When I was in college, our school had a chapel. It wasn’t open very much. I imagined that since it was on a college campus that it would be open for us all to drop in (gracious knows, college students have a lot on their shoulders) during odd hours, and I campaigned for it to be open more. In my world, you can pray anywhere — including places that aren’t even your ‘flavor’ religion — and those doors should be available to you. I can pray in my car, in my bed, standing at the kitchen sink, but sometimes I need to pray in a pew, whether it’s at my home synagogue or somewhere else.
This summer I visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, the International Shrine of Saint Jude. Lucky enough to grow up in a town that’s very Catholic: Sacred Heart Church (I remember telling one of my friends in middle school that she was so lucky to be Catholic because she got to pray in that (gorgeous, ornate) sanctuary and after agreeing, she turned to me and sweetly said, ‘I’d be Catholic in a cardboard box’ — she was a wise, good girl) and the Benedictine Sisters, Ave Maria Grotto and St. Bernard Abbey, now Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament (thanks to Mother Angelica who I used to run into at The All Steak) and have many, many close Catholic friends, I feel very comfortable in Catholic churches. And beautifully, they often have open doors.
I do spend time at St. Louis Cathedral, but this particular day I was nearby and came in Our Lady of Guadalupe on Rampart Street:
So gorgeous in person. Really wish I had brought my Digital Rebel.
Saint Jude, the Patron Saint of lost causes:
Saint Jude is sometimes shown with a flame around his head: more about that here.
Since I mentioned my school above…last year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Troy University, finding fault with the brand-new Newman Center co-ed dorm. From the AL.com story:
The dormitories give preference to students who maintain active spiritual lifestyles and are actively engaged in a campus faith-based organization.
But Seidel wrote that preference violates the Alabama Fair Housing Act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against potential buyers or tenants on the basis of race, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.
The preference also violates the Fist Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as state constitutional provisions regarding church and state, Seidel wrote.
“This amounts to Troy University making a determination of how religious a person is, and then discriminating among students based on that determination,” he wrote. “It is unconstitutional for government entities to make such a determination …”
…The faith-based dorms feature a 2,300-square-foot Newman Center or Catholic ministry leased by the Catholic archdiocese in Mobile. They also have a small chapel and an office for the local priest and feature three Catholic and three Baptist resident assistants.
While Schmidt initially said the dorms would give preference to Christian students, a university spokesman said Tuesday that was not the case and that the dorms are open to students of all faiths and denominations.
Since the complaint sent in August ’13, the University has retained the Liberty Institute and the law firm of O’Melveny and Myers. This is the firm’s response on behalf of Troy. Just in regards to one of the last sentences in that document, that ‘the university does not maintain any statistics concerning the religious affiliations or activities of students admitted…‘ I do clearly recall being asked after arriving on campus and paying my tuition/board/fees (back in the ’90s when we still had to do that in person) what my religion was, and when I replied that I’m Jewish, the person responded with ‘we don’t have a box for that’ — which made me laugh! Now, whether that information was being compiled by the University and they aren’t doing that any longer, or if it was a student who had the University’s consent to compile the information personally for some Stats or other class, I have no idea. But it tickled me that I was so ‘out of the box’!