August 03, 2012


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By Andy Hirsch

LEWISBURG, Pa. — 'I don't know if I believe what I was raised to believe.' John Colatch has heard those words many times during his 33 years as a pastor. They symbolize part of why Bucknell's new University Chaplain and director of Spiritual and Religious Life has spent most of that time serving on college campuses. 

"This environment allows me to be there for young adults at one of the most important times in their lives," Colatch said. "Some of them are making these very important decisions on their own for the first time. I often hear, 'I don't know how to tell my parents.' I listen and, if nothing else the student knows there's a safe place to talk."

Colatch spent the past eight years at Lafayette College where, as the director of religious life and associate dean for intercultural development, he placed a heavy emphasis on interfaith programming.

"Interfaith work isn't saying let's pretend we don't have any differences, interfaith work says let's talk about our differences and maybe we'll find out what common interests we have," he explained. "I find it so rewarding to see people of different faiths come together, and I truly believe I'm a better Christian because of the influence other faiths have had on me."

Early on, Colatch hopes to establish an interfaith council at Bucknell. But he plans to spend much of his first year listening, learning and making himself available to the campus community.

"I think the position of University Chaplain means a lot of different things to a lot of different people," he said. "I need to spend some time figuring out how I can best serve this campus. The important thing people need to know is I am here. Whether it is a time of crisis or celebration, people have a place to turn to for help and guidance."  

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