Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Anna Roark, University of St. Thomas

4/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Muslim UST MAFC Grad Bridges Faith Communities

In what may seem paradoxical to some, a Muslim community leader-an imam-will receive a graduate degree in faith and culture from Houston's Catholic university. At the University of St. Thomas Commencement Ceremony on May 18 honoring 350 undergraduates and 793 graduate students, Turkish-born-and-raised Ali Civelek will be awarded a master's in Faith and Culture.


By Anna Roark, University of St. Thomas

Catholic Online (

4/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in College & University

Keywords: University of St. Thomas, Muslim, Master of Faith and Culture, Commencement, Center for Faith and Culture

His intention is to use what he has learned to build strong bridges between diverse communities. 

Civelek came to America with his family in 2002 and now works for Houston's Turkish-American community, which has its own cultural center and a small mosque. Father to five children, ages 2 to 17, Civelek had a personal interest in the University's graduate program.

"I'm raising my children here, and I had a great urge to learn about all the aspects of this culture," Civelek said. "After taking the courses, I have a desire to share beyond my children."

The former industrial engineer turned businessman turned imam says the University's Faith and Culture Program changed his life, and he plans to use what he has learned to increase understanding and communication between cultures and faiths.

"Always in my heart, I have been driven to read and learn and understand what's going on around me," Civelek said. "Through this program, I learned about the different shades of American culture, how individualism came to be so valued here, and I ended up learning Catholicism-Christianity-more deeply. It changed me so much."

According to Civelek, the more he learned about American faith and culture, the more he had in common with it.

"Our core values are almost the same-forgiveness, charity, justice, poverty and respect for God," Civelek said. "We can come together and work on common issues like poverty and justice."

The UST Center for Faith and Culture provides a Master of Arts in Faith and Culture and a Certificate of Faith and Culture as core programs. This work is supported through the core mission to seek to understand and affect the relationship between the Gospel and the American way of life.

As part of the MAFC program, Ali completed a service learning and leadership practicum at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The practicum allows students to work in various settings to communicate with and teach others how to integrate faith development with civic and social responsibility.

At Catholic Charities, Civelek learned about a remarkably efficient social ministry. He is helping to create a map of all outreach organizations in the downtown area.

Dr. Adam Martinez, program director, said Ali has been an outstanding student.

"As a leader and a living witness to the integration of faith and culture, he has been learning as much as he could about the Catholic faith and way of life so he can be a stronger bridge with his own faith community," Martinez said.

"Our communities can share and learn from one another," Civelek said. "The University's Faith and Culture program called to me and made me believe this is possible."


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More College & University

Religion and Science: The Evolutionary Controversy

Image of

By Kyle Jorstad, Grove City College

Catholic Online welcomes scholarly submissions for consideration, contact Abstract: Though members of the scientific and atheistic community alike often tout science as the downfall of religion, theories regarding Darwinian evolution ... continue reading

Do you love America? What these college professors were caught doing on camera will shock you! Watch

Image of The Constitution codifies many liberties, including the right to shred the Constitution itself.


It should be no surprise that America's colleges and universities are overrun with anti-American liberals who lack all respect for the country and the principles upon which it is founded. In an age where political correctness has run amok, students are indoctrinated by ... continue reading

Catholic Colleges: Tackling Student Loans Ethically


By Caitlin Bootsma

It's almost an assumption in today's world that students will take out a staggering amount of debt to be able to attend a four year university. And, with college costs rising faster than the rate of inflation, 18 year olds are signing themselves up for increasingly ... continue reading

Franciscan nun becomes first woman head of a pontifical university Watch

Image of Sister Melone is an alumnus of the university set up in 1890 in honor of St Anthony, a 13th century saint from Spain known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of the Bible.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education made history last week when it nominated a Franciscan nun as the first woman head of a pontifical university. In a position held usually by priests, Sister Mary Melone will become the rector of the Pontifical ... continue reading

University of St. Thomas Graduates First Nursing Cohort in 25 Years

Image of University of St. Thomas Nursing Graduate, Elizabeth Ciocco

By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas

This May 27 nursing students, including Elizabeth Ciocco, will be the first nursing students to graduate from the University of St. Thomas in nearly 25 years.  Ciocco joins 298 undergraduates and 739 graduates at the University's 64th Commencement ... continue reading

University of St. Thomas Honors Research Goes 6 Feet Under

Image of Honors Program students consider the issues of death and mortality in the Contemporary Seminar research presented at UST's Research symposium.

By Brenda Cooper, University of St. Thomas

A few hundred people have undergone cryopreservation procedures since 1962, having their bodies cooled to sub-zero temperatures, with the hope that one day they may be brought back to life using highly advanced technology. It's the kind of issue-along with assisted ... continue reading

What the devil?! Bill Gates wants your college info so he can tell you what classes to take Watch

Image of Bill Gates could do so much more if only he had your privacy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It might be easier to compose a short list of people and agencies that don't want to spy on you. Adding his name to the long list, Bill Gates has proposed tracking the lives and careers of college graduates as an ongoing means to assess college value. Of course, they'd ... continue reading

Two Cardinals, a Theologian and a Historian to Lecture at the University of St. Thomas

Image of N.T. Wright, one of the world's leading Bible scholar.

By Darnell Miller, University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas is fortunate to have four outstanding speakers giving lectures on campus in the month of March. These speakers include N.T. Wright, one of the world's leading Bible scholars; Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto; Dr. Andrew ... continue reading

Women Succeed in UST Engineering, CUA is New Partner

Image of Kendall Niemann is a UST cooperative engineering student studying at the University of Notre Dame.

By Brenda Cooper, University of St. Thomas

In the male-dominated field of engineering, it can be difficult for women to succeed, but last year, all four graduates of the University of St. Thomas cooperative engineering program were women, and three of them were Hispanic. Dr. Sheila Waggoner said she is proud of ... continue reading

Mardi Gras King, Queen Exemplify UST Mission

Image of University of St. Thomas Mardi Gras King and Queen, C.J. Miller and Meredith Smith.

By Vivian Cabrera - University of St. Thomas

The ideal Mardi Gras king and queen should embody the University's mission to educate leaders of faith and character. With the crowning of C.J. Miller and Meredith Smith The ideal Mardi Gras king and queen should embody the University's mission to educate leaders of ... continue reading

All College & University News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • Happy Thanksgiving Day: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
  • Daily Readings for Friday, November 27, 2015
  • Bet you've never seen a space rocket do THIS!
  • UPDATE: Did the U.S. military actually know they were bombing the ...
  • St. James Intercisus: Saint of the Day for Friday, November 27, 2015
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Daniel 6:12-28
12 These men came along in a body and found Daniel praying and pleading ... Read More

Psalm, Daniel 3:68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74
68 Bless the Lord, dew and snow-storm, praise and glorify him for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:20-28
20 'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you must realise ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 26th, 2015 Image

St. John Berchmans
November 26: Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at ... Read More