The following comes from a January 18 Catholic Voice article by Carrie McClish:

When her daughter asked to be taken out of the public school she was attending several years ago, Noreen Naqvi became frustrated. Naqvi explained that her children were not used to being in an environment that “lacked moral structure” and values, she said.

But where could she send her children? A close friend suggested enrolling her kids at St. Patrick School in Rodeo. The school had everything she was looking for: strong academics, values, discipline and a faith-filled environment. However, St. Patrick was a Catholic school and Naqvi and her children were practicing Muslims.

While predominately Catholic, the school’s population is about 20 percent non-Catholic, 80 percent Catholic, said principal Kelly Stevens. “Most of our non-Catholic children either are non-denominational Christians, Muslim, Sikh or Hindu.”

“When non-Catholic parents come to enroll their children at our school we tell them that we are first and foremost a Catholic school,” Stevens said. “Our Catholic identity does not change just because some of our students are non-Catholic. All children attend morning prayer, daily religion classes, and our weekly and monthly Masses and prayer services. All children are expected to participate. This is part of how we build community and develop our children’s moral character. Most parents appreciate that.”

Born in Pakistan and raised in Great Britain, Naqvi speaks flawless English and is neither quiet nor shy. “It was no problem for me” to speak up and ask and answer questions, she said. Naqvi had a plan. She began attending Mass at the parish church, drawing many glances from parishioners, which she welcomed. She said that the idea was for people to see her, a Muslim woman, and see that she was friendly and safe.

Muslims and Catholics share many “similarities” and “commonalities, but at the same time there are many differences,” Naqvil said. Followers of Islam believe that there is only one God, like followers of Christianity and Judaism. Islam, Christianity and Judaism all believe in the existence of prophets. However the religions differ on who they consider a prophet; Muslims hold that Muhammed is one, Jews and Christians don’t.