My Experience with Religious Diversity at Benedictine

Ankeny and Ahmed

According to a University survey released in June, 41.2% of students are Roman Catholic and 19.8% students are Muslim. Carrie Ankeny (right) is the Director of Campus Ministry. (Photo credit: Namrah Ahemed)

Namrah Ahmed

Perspectives Writer

Benedictine has a wide variety of religious beliefs that can assist in creating new friendships that come together by sharing similar religious practices. From a recent survey through Institutional Research Department, at Benedictine University, sent out on June 2nd, 2021, we can conclude that Christianity and Islam are among the largest religious groups on campus. Hinduism, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Quaker, Unitarian Universalism, are some of the other religions represented on campus.

I have made close friendships by being affiliated with religious organizations on campus, such as the Muslim Student Association (MSA). As a freshman at Benedictine and I was not entirely sure how I was going to fit in and create those “lifetime” friendships that most people develop while in college. It felt as if it was an unrealistic dream I was trying to attain, but on Friday, August 30th, 2019, I met one incredible individual who has become my lifetime friend. 

Over time I was able to meet and mingle with so many other remarkable individuals. It was through the Jummah prayer that this unrealistic dream became real. I was very shy and intimidated by the crowd of upperclassmen.  I didn’t realize is that this crowd was nothing like how I imagined. Everyone was very welcoming, oriented, friendly, and outgoing. It didn’t take me too long to get comfortable and began joining the bi-weekly MSA general body meetings. I attended every Jummah I could throughout that semester before COVID took a hit. This religious affiliation has been a door to many opportunities which has not only lead me to become a better Muslim but has allowed me to be a mentor to others, in which I take a lot of pride.

Carrie Ankeny serves as Benedictine’s Campus Ministry Director. Our conversation was light-hearted and educational, She mentioned that as a Catholic Benedictine institution we are interfaith because we are Catholic, and due to this, Benedictine welcomes their students from all backgrounds and practicing faiths. During our discussion, Carrie mentioned how Campus Ministry carried out events in the past ranging from Mosiac, an interfaith week, interfaith dialogue, Catholic-Muslim Dialogue which consisted of students picking their most favorite verses from the Bible and Quran and coming together to discuss the beauty of the two.

Being different doesn’t mean we have to disregard others, or even create feuds. As we come together from different religious backgrounds, perspectives, and purposes, we need to continue to remain grounded and listen to what others have to say from the heart and not from our own intellect.

As we continued our discussion, Carrie mentioned something that immediately stung my heart in a good way. She talked about listening, and how important it is from one individual to another.

“At the heart of who we are, we begin with listening.” Ankeny said.

She enlightened me with a guide that all Catholic Benedictine institutions follow, “The Rule.” St. Benedict wrote The Rule in 516, among the many rules, the first rule drew attention to ‘listening’. I was able to conclude that this exemplifies that the beauty of community and solidarity is rooted in just listening.

Are you ready to get involved with religious organizations on campus? Or begin learning about the wide variety of other groups we have on campus? It’s an experience you won’t regret taking part in! For more information on Campus Ministry check out ben.edu/campus-ministry. For more information on the Muslim Student Association check out msabenedictine.wixsite.com/website or their Instagram page BenUMSA.