Interfaith Center turns 40

On Wednesday, college and community members gathered at the InterFaith Center to celebrate "40 Years of Blessings."

The Center was constructed 40 years ago as a place where students of any faith could worship on campus. Although the faith groups on campus have changed over time, trademark activities like the annual opening picnic and Thanksgiving dinner have remained.

Despite the Center being financially independent of the college, a variety of campus organizations still use the facility for meetings and special events. A newly-refurbished meditation room offers a space where students can go to relax, unwind or pray whenever the Center is open.

Joyce Wechsler, current chairperson of the Board of Directors for the IFC, said in her opening remarks that "tolerance of other faiths' values has been a constant" of the Center. "If you feed the body and soul, you have done your job," she said, referring to the spiritual gatherings and discussions, as well as well-known pasta dinners and other events where food is served.

"Long may this great civic and spiritual institution thrive," said President Christopher Dahl. He said that the center excels "in its tolerance, its openness and in its multiplicity." He also acknowledged the contributions of former President Robert MacVittie, under whose tenure the Center was created.

"This building has never looked better," said Myrtle Merritt, a former IFC Board chairperson for whom the Merritt Athletic Center is named.

"As long as there are good people like you, this place will continue as a center of faith, prayer and community," former board chairperson Jim McNally said to the crowd.

Attendees shared both light and heartfelt memories reminiscing how the Center changed their lives and the lives of the students who considered it a home away from home throughout their collegiate years.

"I thank God every day for the 12 years that I was privileged to serve this community," said Rev. Thomas Statt, Geneseo's first full-time Catholic chaplain. "We never could have envisioned all the good that would take place because of this facility."

The InterFaith Center is located at 11 Franklin St.