Maura Keary ’22
While the Trinity College Chapel has remained relatively unoccupied over the past six months, students of Trinity’s faith-based organizations have begun their return to campus in the hopes of reconnecting with their religious groups. Just as places of worship have in the “real world,” Trinity’s various faith based organizations have succeeded in creating the welcoming ambience of meetings that are typically held in person despite the move from the physical world to Zoom.
Interim College Chaplin Reverend Trevor Beauford relayed how students can continue to be part of these groups in saying that this fall, “we will be engaging virtually and when allowed, we will offer outdoor services. All faith traditions will have the opportunity to meet for prayers and public worship.”
With only a few weeks of “gatherings” under their belts, some organizations are starting to create a new normal, including online religious meetings and services. In particular, Chapel Council, a student-led Christian organization, has gathered virtually since returning to Trinity. The first Council meeting consisted of student members, including first-year students who had recently joined. The members were able to introduce themselves, discuss ideas, and reflect upon their plans for the upcoming semester.
Trinity Episcopalian and Protestant communities are another group that has gathered online. On Sunday, Sept. 6, Episcopal College Chaplain Reverend Rebekah Hatch led a virtual service for students and the community, preaching on scripture and welcoming students back to campus despite their separation from the College’s Chapel. Chapel Council member Alex Chambers ’22 explained that students were able to participate as if they were in the Chapel. Though the service took place on Zoom, students were able to read scripture, engage with their community, and listen to recordings of College Organist Christopher Houlihan’s music from the Chapel organ. Some services, such as those in the Episcopal tradition, will be offered online until outdoor meetings can be formed in groups not exceeding 25 individuals.
Trinity’s current policy restricts gatherings to no more than 25 masked indiviuals, socially distanced in an outdoor space. Fortunately, technology is being set up to live-stream services, such as Catholic mass, if the number of attendees hits the limit.
Associate Chaplain for Roman Catholic Life John Campbell said that he hopes to be able to gather for Catholic mass after Sept. 14. Campbell explained that the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life hopes to utilize the large tent adjacent to the Chapel as a location to hold outdoor services. “There is a lot of anxiety in the world right now,” Campbell remarked, “So, the more we can get students to take care of each other, pray, and remain even-keeled, the better campus will be. We can make this a fabulous semester if we step up and take care of ourselves.” Campbell also began a “Monday Morning Chaplain” series, where he reflects on God and the world. This program, began over the summer, has allowed Campbell to remain connected with members of Trinity’s Catholic community. The health and safety of Trinity students will remain a priority as organizations continue to reevaluate the structure of their gatherings. Rev. Beauford also explained the plans for several other groups: “The Friday Jumlah Prayers will be in the new Muslim Prayer Room in Crescent 76. day Shabbat will be virtual for the time being, and Chapel services and mass will be online until further plans develop.” plans develop.” Thus, despite distance, spiritual and religious life remains strong at Trinity this fall term.