Interfaith Chapel is experiencing a wave of changes with the beginning of this school year, both in terms of structure and staff. Hillel and the Catholic Newman Community are both experiencing a transition in staff, while the entire Interfaith Chapel is now under a new organizational structure designed to further integrate their religious programs into the greater UR community.

“The issue has been [Interfaith’s] isolation from the rest of campus,” Dean of Students and former administrator of Interfaith Chapel Jody Asbury said. In order to bridge the gap, each of the four chaplaincies – Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Protestant – will be represented by a committee under the Dean of Students’ and Dean of The College’s offices. “Each of [the chaplaincies] has a committee made up of faculty, students and staff,” Asbury said. “The group will be informed about the budget, the program plans and will be involved in their respective communitites.”

These committees were first formed towards the end of last year and will be fully operational this semester. Participants are excited to start their work as an interfaith group.

“With any structural change there is always apprehension and excitement,” Director of the Newman Community Rev. Brian Cool said. “I think there is a lot of oppurtunity there.”

“We’ve always had a committee that involved university personel,” Protestant Chaplain Greg Osterberg said. “But having it linked to Dean Asbury and Dean Green, it gives us a great feedback link.”

Increased feedback and accountability are viewed as important parts of the new organization because of the unique structure of Interfaith’s chaplaincies. Each of the four chaplaincies is affiliated with a Rochester community organization. The chaplains and their staff are not university employees, but rather employees of these outside organizations.

Hillel’s staff suffered a loss over the summer when the former Executive Director Ari Israel took a position at his alma mater, the University of Maryland.

“Rabbi Israel was here for seven years and helped make Hillel what it is today,” UR Hillel’s Program Director Tamra Cohen said.

UR Hillel is currently in the process of trying to find a new executive director to fill the void left by Israel’s leaving.

“We know how important it is to get a good executive director,” Professor of Political Science and member of the search committee Gerald Gamm said.

The Newman Community also lost staff. Sr. Kathleen Wayne left to serve as a full-time vocations director for the Sisters of Mercy. Due to the expansion of the Newman Community, two full-time staffers have joined Rev. Cool.

William Hamant will be overseeing liturgical worship, retreats, the Rite of Christian Adult Initiation and the music program.

“I’m basically a pastoral resource for students, if they need someone to talk to,” Hamant said.

Also joining the staff is Program Specialist Katherine Macko. A recent graduate of UR, Macko will be focusing on student programming.

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