Stand By Me

December 21, 2023

Much of the Chaplaincy’s work is highly public such as the regular religious services we hold, the impactful speakers we bring to campus, and our pilgrimage program that regularly takes students to different parts of the world. 

A good deal of the Chaplaincy’s work is less visible and yet so important. At the heart of our many religious traditions is an ethic of love and compassion for others, to be aware of the difficulties that our friends, neighbors, and classmates are facing and do all we can to ease the burdens they carry. As a staff team we seek to walk alongside individuals and the campus community more broadly during times of joy and sorrow and the landscape in between.  

Students go through ups and downs during their time at the University of Richmond. Challenges with mental health are impacting a growing number of college students across the country. Family difficulties, relationship struggles, addictive behaviors, identity questions, and the typical anxieties that accompany starting in a new place or preparing to graduate are deeply felt by students. Grief, too, is readily present and triggered by various forms of loss. 

Whenever and wherever difficulties arise, the Chaplaincy team seeks to respond with empathy and compassion, meeting students where they are, listening to their stories and concerns, and when appropriate connecting them to larger support networks within our office and across campus. 

As the University of Richmond becomes increasingly more diverse and information travels instantaneously throughout our interconnected world, global events are often felt acutely by individuals on our campus who may have a connection to a social or personal heartache in a distant place. The great sadness in the Holy Land this fall has been particularly impactful on our students this semester, especially our Jewish and Muslim students. 

In recent weeks, our Jewish and Muslim life communities held public times of mourning for those who have died, and all our communities have offered fervent prayers for peace, justice, and hope to emerge in that land which is cherished by so many. Chaplaincy staff have led interfaith dialogues to bring students together across lines of difference to listen and learn from one another, and we have participated in larger institutional efforts to offer support and education to all our students no matter where they align religiously, ethnically, or politically. These initiatives are in addition to the pastoral care and educational opportunities the Chaplaincy continues to provide within each or our communities.

The Chaplaincy staff seeks to model care and concern for the wider campus and to meet people where they are, especially the bright and talented young people who come to study, live, learn, and pray on this campus.