News

Hindu Chaplain Announcement

12 August 2014

I am pleased to announce today that Georgetown University has hired its first Hindu Chaplain, Pratima Dharm, currently serving as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army.

HSAFrom its foundation in 1789, Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, has been open to students of every religious tradition. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) deepened the Catholic Church’s commitment to vibrant and substantive inter-religious engagement. Steeped in this history, Georgetown has developed the largest campus ministry in the country.

Together with the Jesuit community, Georgetown’s campus ministry has long served Catholic students. Such ministry has been greatly expanded over the recent decades with the collaboration of diocesan priests, sisters and priests from other religious orders, and increasing numbers of talented lay men and women. To serve students from other religious traditions, Georgetown has funded and staffed chaplaincies in the Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Orthodox Christian traditions. Living out the promise of Vatican II, Georgetown was the first Catholic university to hire a rabbi to serve as a chaplain in 1968. Three decades later, Georgetown became the first American university to hire an imam to serve as a full-time chaplain. The creation of a Hindu chaplaincy is another significant moment in this history.

Committed to serving persons of all faiths and backgrounds, Chaplain Dharm is the first female chaplain of Indian descent and the first Hindu chaplain in the U.S. Army. While serving on Army bases and hospitals around the world, including a year-long deployment in Iraq, Chaplain Dharm most recently served as the lead Conflict Resolution/Resiliency and Suicide Prevention Chaplain specialist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Over the years, she earned the esteem of her colleagues and, among other accolades, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for organizing and leading numerous humanitarian aid missions for the Kurdish people in Iraq. Before joining the army, Chaplain Dharm served as a teacher, counselor, and social worker in a variety of settings.

Chaplain Dharm, a graduate of Catholic primary and secondary schools in India, earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey University (S.N.D.T) in Mumbai, a Master’s degree in Psychology from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, and a Master’s degree in Theology from Ashland Seminary, a Christian seminary in Ohio and Michigan. She is trained in the Vaishnav Hindu tradition in India and is currently endorsed by Chinmaya Mission West, Palo Alto, California. She is also a keen student and practitioner of Yoga and Yoga Nidra and presently teaches Mind Body Skills and Yoga to wounded warriors, veterans, family members and staff at Walter Reed.

We look forward to welcoming Chaplain Dharm to campus on October 1, after she retires from active duty in the Army. Serving in a part-time capacity, she will care for not only our Hindu students but all students, faculty and staff who may wish to seek her out for pastoral care or deepen their understanding of Hinduism.

I am grateful to my colleagues in Mission and Ministry, Aaron Johnson and Lisa Pannucci, who were instrumental in identifying a Hindu chaplain, and to our chaplains, students, and campus colleagues who participated in the interview process.

Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. (new window)
Vice President for Mission and Ministry