The Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at St. Bonaventure University serves as a way to bridge the university's rich Franciscan tradition and Arab and Islamic culture.
Opened in 2015, the CAIS has allowed students, faculty and community members to interact with new experiences or connect with their cultures.
The CAIS recently received a gift from the Islamic Society of the Southern Tier to keep the center functioning as a cultural institution for the university community.
The gift, worth $5,000, was dedicated at the beginning of Francis Month, which will last through the end of October.
Amina Golden-Arabaty, who serves as an integral part of the CAIS, said, "This grant will help to fund various events that the CAIS hosts on campus to facilitate different areas of dialogue, specifically interfaith, interreligious dialogue."
Golden-Arabaty graduated from the university in May, but she has remained an active part of the university, helping to fill in for Fr. Michael Calabria, O.F.M. when necessary.
Her brother, Jordan Golden-Arabaty, a senior strategic communications major, currently serves as the president of the Muslim Students and Allies organization on campus. He said that the relationship between the MSA and the CAIS has helped maintain both groups, noting that the MSA would not exist without the support of the CAIS.
Amina Golden-Arabaty said the grant, which will benefit the CAIS and the MSA, served as the perfect way to recognize the start of Francis Month.
"The community itself is so proud to be able to help in this mission of bridging together (Islam and Catholicism)," said Amina Golden-Arabaty. "They donate generously."
"Without (the Islamic Society of the Southern Tier's) support, the CAIS would not exist," said Calabria.
"The grant will allow the CAIS to expand through various aspects regarding Arab and Islamic culture," said Jordan Golden-Arabaty.
Jordan Golden-Arabaty said he is excited to see how Francis Month progresses and how it helps to foster dialogue amongst students and university community members.
"Having intercultural and interfaith dialogues allows students to engage with one another, and to learn and experience a religion or culture they may be unfamiliar with," said Jordan Golden-Arabaty. "Learning to love other faiths and religions allows you to connect deeper with your own (identities)."
Francis Month, which Calabria and the CAIS had a heavy hand in facilitating, is intended to do exactly what Jordan Golden-Arabaty expressed.
Because this year marks the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan al Malik al Kamil, the university and the CAIS are extending efforts to ensure students are aware of the history of St. Francis, while simultaneously including Islamic principles and ideas.
"It's really special to see how time has only brought us closer together," Amina Golden-Arabaty said of the Catholic and Islamic faiths.