Finding A Spiritual Home

[Imam Hendi talks with students.]

Imam Hendi speaking with students at the Campus Ministry Event, Finding Your Spiritual Home at Georgetown.

 If you ask how a student at Georgetown’s New Student Orientation feels, you might hear responses like excited, impressed, overwhelmed and perhaps even lost. That was the way I felt a year ago when I first stepped foot onto Georgetown’s campus and was inundated by names of students I’d never met and disoriented by buildings whose names I wasn’t sure I would remember. I felt lost. What I did not realize was that Georgetown had an answer for me in the form of Campus Ministry.

Last week, new students who attended Finding Your Spiritual Home had that very opportunity to find belonging, meaning and purpose at Georgetown through Campus Ministry. This sense of belonging is fostered not for students of any particular faith, but rather for any student of any background. Finding Your Spiritual Home introduced Georgetown’s numerous chaplaincies and the opportunities they provide, including weekly services, student groups, and retreats. Above all, the event highlighted Campus Ministry’s deeply interfaith mission rooted in the university’s origins nearly 250 years ago.

One of Campus Ministry’s defining characteristics is that it allows students to take ownership of their own faith journey. Rabbi Rachel Gartner, who has served the Jewish community at Georgetown community since 2011, told the story of one student who on the day of his graduation said, “I came to Georgetown less Jewish than I am now as I graduate.” This is a story that matches those of many other students, myself included, who grew closer to their faith as they ventured out to discover it, away from home. Rather than tell students what the believe, Campus Ministry guides students as they make those decisions for themselves.

Campus Ministry also fosters community. Within every chaplaincy at Georgetown, students of every denomination are welcomed and encouraged to participate. As Director of Muslim Life, Imam Hendi, says, “Muslim Life at Georgetown is a home for all Muslims.” Beyond that, Georgetown encourages community-building between students of different faith traditions. Weekly services are open to all students, and all students are encouraged to strengthen their own faith through interreligious dialogue.

One student at Finding Your Spiritual Home asked about the opportunities at Georgetown beyond services, student, groups and retreats. They are endless. For service-inclined students, each chaplaincy participates in community service work over the course of the year, and for academic-minded students, many of the chaplains also teach courses in various departments. Each residential hall at Georgetown also houses residential ministers who offer guidance to students, and finally, students have the chance to work for Campus Ministry. ⁠

I found my spiritual home at Georgetown working for the interreligious team of Campus Ministry, attending weekly services and retreats, and taking theology courses to challenge my perceptions of faith. Finding Your Spiritual Home offered Georgetown’s newest members a glimpse into all these opportunities to allow themselves to do the same. Ultimately, perhaps it is not just that Georgetown is a place for students to find their spiritual homes but also a place for their spiritual homes to find them.

by Hasini Shyamsundar

Hasini is a sophomore in the  School of Foreign Service.