Category: 2020, Stewardship Investment Report

Title:“How can I keep from singing?”

Spiritual continuity in a time of crisis

The spiritual heart of Georgetown University continues to beat loud and true, even as the world suffers from a devastating health crisis. “Mission & Ministry has been the one place students, faculty, and staff could fall back on, to remind them that they are not alone and there is a home for them,” said Father Mark Bosco, S.J., vice president for Mission & Ministry.

The motto of “We Are One Georgetown” echoes across a virtual landscape of Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube—powerful technologies that have helped to maintain unity despite physical distance from the Hilltop. Thanks to ongoing donor support and dedicated campus partners, Mission & Ministry was able to adjust to a virtual way of life quickly, transferring live offerings to online programs. Among the many initiatives that were launched, video messages from Campus Ministry chaplains (watch below) provided comfort and inspiration to faculty, students, staff, alumni, and parents.

rachel gardner

Online programming in 2020

Catholic Ministry

Dahlgren Chapel was already wired and prepared to move to a livestream audience when the pandemic caused closures on campus. People tuned in to watch the Catholic Mass from their apartments, homes, and assisted living facilities around the United States and abroad (Spain, Peru, Mexico, Singapore, just to name a few). Over 22,000 people watched the traditional Easter Mass. Families separated by the pandemic across time zones were able to participate in the same moment, while other families watched together, with little ones and grandparents gathered around the screen — generations of Hoyas united in worship. Other highlights from Catholic ministry included the St. Joseph Novena, the Baccalaureate Mass, the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

Jewish Ministry

Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Director for Jewish Life, held a Passover Seder over Zoom with a PDF version of the Haggadah, A Night Of Questions. She also participated in the Conversations with Chaplains by offering a post-Passover reflection on the Exodus in light of the coronavirus. And Higher Holy Days: A Hybrid High Holy Day Happening allowed the Jewish community to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with prayer, reflection, and learning.

Muslim Ministry

Imam Yayha Hendi, Director of Muslim Life, launched a YouTube channel to stream services every Friday for members of the Muslim community. During the month of Ramadan, he led a series of video messages and published a guide to Ramadan for the Muslim Life community to help those who were celebrating the holy month in isolation.

Orthodox Christian Ministry

The renovations of Copley Crypt Chapel are complete and the new icons have been installed. V. Rev. David Pratt, director of Orthodox Christian Chaplaincy, explained the significance of the icons in his Campus Ministry blog post.

Interfaith initiatives

Georgetown united as a community for the Interfaith Prayer for Lament, Healing, and Justice. The event was organized to help students process and respond to this specific moment in our history, with the world grappling with racism and its effects. Rev. Ebony Grisom, interim director of Protestant Christian Ministry, offered a powerful reflection.

To hold the community of Lebanon in prayer after the explosion in Beirut, an Arabic prayer of understanding between Muslims and Christians was set to music and performed at a Mass. Assalāmu ‘alayki (Peace be upon You) begins at 52:40.

Some of the most moving and creative events during the pandemic were virtual choir performances that merged voices and videos to triumphantly announce the joy of our spiritual connection with God and with others, including “How Can I Keep From Singing,” arranged by Taylor Davis and “These Alone Are Enough” (watch below).

spiritual continuity collage of faces

Commitment to student spiritual well-being

Throughout the last six months, pastoral care appointments were available for students to receive mentoring and guidance from chaplains. The chaplains continued working during the summer to support students and provide reflections for the entire university community. In addition, resident ministers continued to be a resource for students, offering spiritual guidance and a listening ear to those who needed it.

Prayer and reflection has helped many Georgetown community members during these challenging times, as evidenced by the sheer volume of people logging into Campus Ministry activities and setting up pastoral care appointments. Mission & Ministry has been able to console and accompany people from all walks of life, and will continue to do so for years to come. Your support means that we will be a stronger community when we are able to return to the Hilltop.

Read more on this topic in A Call to Hope, a conversation with Julia Farr (C’88), executive director of the Georgetown University Alumni Association in the fall 2020 issue of Georgetown Magazine.