More specialty housing proposed in Kirk with new Interfaith House

By Noah Westreich

Next semester, the Interfaith House is expected to open as a special interest living community in Kirk Hall, Section 8. Sponsored by the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and Multifaith Council, the Interfaith House will be an intentional community serving as a space for understanding and learning about different religious traditions.”Our main motive in the application process is to seek people passionate about matters of religion and spirituality,” Hossein Alidaee ’13, a member of the Multifaith Council, said. The house will be occupied by students of all (or no) religious backgrounds, and as residents of the Interfaith House they will plan events pertaining to religion and spirituality.

The concept of an Interfaith House exists on many college campuses, and according to Alidaee, it has been thriving. Students who wish to explore their own beliefs as well as learn about others’ will be able to do so by participating in the house-sponsored events as well as by daily interaction with housemates.

“It is my hope as College Chaplain to encourage this special living community to engage in compassionate conversation within the House itself and also in the wider college community,” Chaplain Lucy Forster-Smith said. “The CRSL will encourage the students involved with the Interfaith House and the campus community to consider big questions of meaning and purpose that are so pressing both in our own individual lives and also in the global commons.”

Macalester features a number of different religious organizations, and the addition of the Interfaith House will serve as a new space for students to reflect and explore different implications of religious life.

Inspiration for the Interfaith House is partly derived from the success of the Lilly Project’s Summer Fellows House, a program in which students pursue summer internships and live together in a house. The program has been successful in engaging its participants in meaningful dialogue surrounding personal and community well-being.

“Given its popularity and ability to engage the residents living there, we thought our idea for an intentional living community could be just as successful,” Alidaee said.

At the beginning of the semester, a survey was sent via email by the CRSL and Residential Life to a sample of 400 students to gauge interest for the Interfaith House. Although the house’s existence this fall is not yet certain, the survey drew a popular response from its takers. Alidaee expressed confidence that all beds in the Interfaith House would be filled.