A pioneering centre, Maryam House - using the Arabic form of the name of Mary - to encourage dialogue between Catholics and Muslims has been established in Birmingham. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, assisted by children from the Rosary Primary School, cut the blue ribbon and blessed Maryam House, situated in the grounds of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Saltley, on Wednesday. The parish priest, Father Bernard Kelly, said: "The Maryam Centre hs been established as a place of dialogue between the Catholic community and its Islamic neighbours in the Saltley and Alum Rock districts of east Birmingham." During a memorable ceremony, the deputy Imam of the nearby Zia-ul-Quran Mosque, Hafeez Mohammed Mushtaq, read a passage from the Koran that sings the praises of Mary the Mother of Jesus. A number of people said prayers and gave brief message of support, including, the Revd David Hulme, Chairperson Rock Christian Churches, architect Daniel Hurd and Pat Joyce from Glenpark Builders, both parishioners of the Rosary. Archbishop Nichols said afterwards: "I was delighted to take part in this blessing and dedication of the new centre. The Maryam Centre is dedicated to the promotion of co-operation and partnership within the local community and especially between the Christian and Muslim communities." The Archbishop added: "I hope that this initiative will demonstrate and strengthen the ways in which these two communities can share the neighbourhood and live side-by side. This is an exciting and important venture in inter-religious dialogue." The foundation stone of the Rosary church (built in 1932 and consecrated in 1934) was bought from Nazareth in 1931 with the blessings and permission of the Franciscan Guardian of the Holy Places, as well as the express will of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The Grand Mufti was the Muslim authority at that time in what was then Palestine. So the very foundation of the Rosary church has in it co-operation between Catholics and Muslims.
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