“You Trying to Convert Me?” A University Chaplaincy and Its Pivotal Role in Student Life

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

On a sunny summer afternoon in July 2019, five GU-Q students and one alumnus sat down with Professor Sohaira Siddiqui on the bare grass of a park in Tubingen, Germany. Amidst a discussion riddled with questions about private and public spirituality, sexuality and religion, the feminine and the masculine in Islam, we found our focus veering towards religious guidance and the deliverance of religious knowledge. We began to discuss the necessity of a chaplaincy, which wouldn’t embody a religious ministry in the strictest sense but would act as a source of spiritual direction and counseling. Upon mentioning a chaplaincy to someone outside of this discussion circle, one is usually met with frustrated sighs, confused looks, and ill-advised   questions like “are you trying to convert me?” or “we’ve already got a Health & Wellness Center, what would we need a chaplaincy for?” If one is looking to be converted, then perhaps a minister or chaplain would be a good place, but that’s far from the goal of a chaplain. 

Since the establishment of Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in 1789, the Jesuit tradition of the university necessitated it to