Former all-girl Catholic academy now home to Long Island’s first Islamic school

  Photo: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Details from Newsday: 

In classrooms where Catholic girls once studied the Bible and prayed the Our Father, young Muslims now study the Quran and pray in Arabic.

The girls no longer wear uniforms of skirts and blazers, but traditional Muslim floor-length dresses called jilbabs, with hijabs covering their heads. Boys are neatly attired in light blue dress shirts and navy blue pants.

They are the 265 students of MDQ Academy, Suffolk County’s first and only Islamic school, which for the third year is calling the majestic Academy of St. Joseph its home. The former all-girls Catholic high school in Brentwood closed five years ago because of declining enrollment.

The number of students in the Islamic school is growing as it continues the cross-faith coexistence. Their classrooms are on two floors of the structure, part of a complex on the grassy 211-acre property that also includes the headquarters of Long Island’s largest order of nuns.

The arrangement is working out wonderfully, leaders of the groups said.

“It’s been very positive for both of us,” said Sister Helen Kearney, head of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood. “It’s a very positive message for our world that, in a sense, tends to kind of divide groups.”

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