Westfield State secures matching funds for $100,000 Interfaith Center programming endowment

The Westfield State Foundation has raised $50,000 to fulfill the challenge grant issued last fall by an anonymous donor. The funds match a $50,000 donation to establish an Interfaith Program Endowment at Westfield State University’s Albert & Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center.

The donation honors Fr. Warren Savage, director of the Center, and recognizes his significant work with Campus Ministry and his approach to bringing people of all faith traditions and religious affiliations together through meaningful dialogue and collaborative, impactful initiatives.

The $100,000 will create a permanently restricted fund to support interfaith dialogue and initiatives which cultivate a culture of unity, peace, and collaboration.

“Fr. Savage’s exemplary work and the Interfaith Center’s purpose supports our campus community and well beyond,” said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dr. Erica Broman, who also serves as executive director for the Westfield State Foundation. “This fund insures the work of Fr. Savage and the Interfaith Center Chaplains and we are excited for them to continue their unifying efforts.”

Last fall, the Interfaith Center hosted an inaugural Interfaith Campus Ministry summit meeting, where leaders of various faith traditions throughout Western Massachusetts gathered to discuss strategies about how to support students who face religious prejudice and how to cultivate a compassionate community among students from diverse backgrounds. Fr. Savage worked diligently to coordinate the highly inclusive and successful summit, the first of its kind in the area.

“Through his keen ability and compassionate style, Fr. Savage reaches across denominations and celebrates the human and spiritual elements that unite us,” said Westfield State University President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.

“The Albert & Ameila Ferst Interfaith Center, through its many programs, events, and outreach, continues to impact the lives of our students in a profound manner,” said Westfield State University Vice President for Student Affairs Gloria Lopez, Ed.D. “We are blessed by the leadership and guidance provided by Fr. Savage and the Interfaith Center chaplains as they cultivate a compassionate campus community by respecting the dignity of every person.” 

Among those in attendance for the summit were Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of the Diocese of Springfield; Dr. Imam Wissam Abdel Baki of the Islamic Society of Western Mass.; The Right Reverend Dr. Douglas J. Fisher, Episcopal Bishop of Western Massachusetts; as well as spiritual leaders from 10 Western Mass. colleges and universities.