St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, opened an Islamic prayer room on May 8, naming it in honor of the late professor of theology Fr. Joseph DeFrancisco to remember his “efforts to promote the universality of faiths” on campus.
The Islamic prayer room was proposed last fall by senior Matthew Mahoney, the president of the Student Government Association in conjunction with the Saudi Student Association.
The dedication of the Muslim prayer room was attended by St. Ambrose University president, Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, Islamic Center of the Quad Cities religious affairs director, Imam Saad Baig, members of the DeFrancisco family and Rev. Thomas Hennen, the campus chaplain. Speaking at the event, Sister Lescinski said, "This is a truly appropriate way to honor Fr. Joe. His openness to all members of the Quad Cities faith community was a living example of the Catholic intellectual tradition.”
However, a prayer room for Islam on a Catholic campus is a departure from tradition and contradicts what the Saints teach. Saint John Bosco, for example, states that while “Muhammad incited people’s passions; Jesus Christ commanded self-denial.” The holy educator of youth continues: “Muhammad’s doctrines are ridiculous, immoral, and corrupting; those of Jesus Christ are august, sublime, and most pure.”