History of CSED
In June 1955, the Eisenhower Chapel was named for the late wife of Penn State President emeritus Milton S. Eisenhower. Milton's brother, Dwight, laid the cornerstone when he was President of the United States. Since then, the Helen Eakin Eisenhower Chapel served as the main religious worship center on campus, housing an All-faith Chapel, a Meditation Chapel, offices, and meeting rooms.
At that time, five Foundation Ministries (United Campus Ministry, Catholic Ministry, Lutheran Ministry, Episcopalian Ministry, and Hillel) served the diverse population of Penn State and the surrounding community. In 1975, the Chapel nearly doubled in size with an addition. As part of this addition, an assembly room was dedicated in May 1976 to John Henry Frizzell, University Chaplain from 1928 to 1948. (In May 2008, the Frizzell Room was renovated and updated and continues to serve as a popular space for meetings and receptions.)
Over the past fifty years, the Chapel grew from five faith groups to 44 faith groups. With this growth, the existing facility simply could not accommodate the pressing needs of an ever-growing diverse Penn State community. Recognizing this burgeoning trend, administrators, religious leaders, and students began dreaming of an expanded facility which could accommodate many more religious/spiritual groups. In December 2001, this dream became a reality. With a generous lead gift from the Pasquerilla family and subsequent gifts from many other benefactors including Joe and Sue Paterno, the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center construction commenced.
Now known as the largest multi-faith facility of its kind in the country, the addition of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center to the Eisenhower Chapel doubled the space available for worship, religious and ethical programming, spiritual growth and exploration, and the exposure and educational opportunities to learn about diverse belief systems. These opportunities contribute to the holistic development of our students, staff, and the community --- attracting a multitude of students, faculty, staff, and community members on a day-to-day basis. With the size of the facility doubling from 22,000 square feet to 44,000 square feet and the main worship space capacity increasing from 125 to 750, the number of worship services, weddings, memorial services, and programming events has increased tremendously.
Celebrating Many Religious and Spiritual Traditions
The structure of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center symbolizes the immense diversity of Penn State. The Center provides a welcoming campus climate and has established a shared understanding and celebration of cultural difference. This is evident in the room design Spiritual Center. There are many rooms used by the various religions and organizations. For example, room 118 is used first and foremost by the Hillel (Jewish) community. This room is quite spacious and houses the Ark, which is the encasement where the Torah is stored. Rooms 119 and 120 are used primarily by the Muslim community. This room faces east and includes a wudu, or hand/foot baths, as well as a carpeted area for prayer. The Buddhist and Catholic communities use the meditation areas for prayer and reflection. The Meditation room provides privacy and quiet for individual prayer and worship. And, the Meditation Chapel houses a collection of Christian symbols including stained glass artwork. All of these rooms help to create a microcosm of our diverse culture and offers students a haven where all are treated with respect and welcomed with open arms and open hearts.
Out of approximately 60 religious/spiritual student organizations on campus, more than 50 groups are affiliated with CSED, upholding certain standards including a Code of Ethics and the Penn State Principles. In return, these affiliated organizations worship, study, and socialize, having access to services in the Center and use of any of the programming rooms free of charge.
As the University continues to attract a diverse student body, The Pasquerilla Spiritual Center provides space to offer the Penn State community a place to celebrate their differences. We have moved beyond the Foundation Ministries of the 1950s and are now attempting to meet the needs of a variety of groups whose traditions and practices highlight the opportunity to learn about interfaith cooperation and understanding. .