The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began two weeks ago, and with it worship at the South Milwaukee location of Masjid Al-Huda, the mosque at the former St. Adalbert’s site.
I re-extend my welcome to our fair city.
I got a quick tour of the campus a couple weeks ago and left impressed with the work the new owners have done to breathe new life into the longtime dormant space.
The biggest change is to the sanctuary, which you can see in the photo above. Many of the other rooms, including the classrooms, have been cleaned and have received a fresh coat of paint, and it’s made a world of difference – they look much as they did when the last St. Adalbert’s students transferred to St. Sylvester’s/Divine Mercy. The gym does too, all the way down to the “DM” logo still at center court.
Masjid Al-Huda plans to grow into many of these rooms – in fact, the entire campus — over the course of years, as they look to make this a long-term second home and keep their Greenfield location. That includes Guardian Academy, the religious school that will start this fall with maybe a few dozen children and adults. (Most mosque youth will also attend a traditional local school or be home schooled.)
There will be five worship services per day. This month, the first is at 3:45 a.m., with the last at 10:30 p.m. More typically, outside of Ramadan, services will be held at dawn, in the early afternoon, in the late afternoon, after sunset, and in the evening.
Attendance is expected to be small to start and grow over time, with the most well-attended services likely to be those held around noon Fridays. Holy days and festivals – such as Ramadan, a month of intense prayers and fasting from sunrise to sundown to mark the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad; it continues through the evening of July 5 – will also draw more attendees.
I look forward to the positive impact the mosque and their worshipers will have on our community. I have met with mosque leaders and attendees several times, and I have seen first-hand their commitment to openness, outreach and community.
These are not radical Islamic jihadists, the people behind attacks like the one in Orlando, which Al-Huda quickly and forcefully condemned. These are good people who are excited to become part of the South Milwaukee community, while bringing much-needed new life to an abandoned property in our city.
These are our neighbors, our co-workers, and our friends … and I ask that we all take time to learn more about who our new neighbors are — and, just as importantly, who they aren’t; what they believe and what they don’t.
Look for more chances to meet them at a barbecue and open house coming this summer. You can also get individual tours of the South Milwaukee site, and meet with mosque attendees and leadership, by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lionsfest will also continue at the site July 29-31.