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The Rev. John Patrick Colatch, who served as chaplain and campus pastor at Allegheny College for the last 10 years, is Lafayette’s new director of religious life and College chaplain.

An ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, Colatch assumed his new position Aug. 1, following the resignation of The Rev. Gary R. Miller, who had served as College chaplain for 31 years.

“I am excited to build on an already strong religious life program at Lafayette,” Colatch says. “I am especially interested in further integrating the work of the Office of Religious Life into the overall social, service, and intellectual life of the college community. I welcome the opportunity to meet students, faculty, and staff as I begin my life here.”

Under Colatch, Allegheny’s religious life program was featured in the Templeton Foundation’s Guide to Colleges That Build Character in 1999. Colatch also was an instructor in Allegheny’s religious studies department. He designed and taught two courses, “Death and Dying in Western Culture” and “American Christianity and Social Justice: From Finney to King and Beyond.”

He served as campus pastor and executive director of the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry at the University of Delaware (1986-90), then as chaplain at Ferrum College in Virginia (1990-94) before taking the post at Allegheny.

Prior to beginning his ministry in higher education, Colatch served two United Methodist Churches in western Pennsylvania and North Carolina as parish pastor from 1979-86 following his graduation from Duke Divinity School, where he earned a master of divinity degree with a concentration in pastoral care.

Last year Colatch completed a doctor of ministry degree in transformative leadership from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, where he received a $20,000 James C. Baker Graduate Award for advance study from the United Methodist Church. His dissertation was titled “Welcoming the Stranger: Practices of Hospitality as a Prophetic Witness to Gay and Lesbian Persons in the United Methodist Church.”

In addition to Christianity and the concerns of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered community, his research interests include issues related to end-of-life concerns, Christianity and the social order, social justice concerns, and religious identity in the midst of diversity.

In 1987 he earned a master of science in education degree in the field of pastoral counseling from Duquesne University. A native of Connellsville, Pa., he did his undergraduate work at West Virginia Wesleyan College, receiving a bachelor of arts degree with a major in Bible/religion and a minor in psychology in 1976.

Colatch is past president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains and currently serves as the association’s membership secretary. He is a member of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, American Academy of Religion, and executive board of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.

He and his wife, Connie, are the parents of a daughter, Carly, who is a junior at Allegheny College, and a son, Zachary, a first-year student at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Colatch enjoys running, weight lifting, and biking, along with music and gardening.

The College chaplain and director of religious life coordinates religious programs on the campus and supervises the Landis Community Outreach Program, a clearinghouse for volunteer activities in the community. In addition, a Roman Catholic Chaplain is appointed by the Diocese of Allentown for pastoral and counseling work on campus; a staff worker is appointed by the Disciple Makers organization to lead the Lafayette Christian Fellowship; a faculty member serves as Jewish Chaplain and works in conjunction with the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation and the College’s Hillel Society; and a faculty member is chosen by Muslim Student Association members to serve as their adviser.

The Catholic chaplain and adviser to the Newman Association is The Rev. Dr. Charles Norman, O.S.F.S. The Jewish chaplain is Robert I. Weiner, Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor of History. The adviser to the Muslim Students Association is Mehmet Uz, professor of chemical engineering. Mark Fodale ’84 is the staff worker for Lafayette Christian Fellowship.

All of the religious organizations sponsor their own services, but many programs are run jointly or are sponsored by the chaplain’s office for the entire campus. A biweekly newsletter, Threshing Floor, reports on these activities and the programs of the religious organizations.

Every Catholic is a part of the Newman Association. Directed to students, faculty, administrators, and staff, Newman gathers for liturgy, celebration of the sacraments, spiritual development, friendship, and service. Members evaluate crucial issues and questions concerning faith and ethics in contemporary life. The Newman House, located at 119 McCartney St., is home to the association’s administrative and social activities. The Catholic community gathers in Colton Chapel at 11:30 a.m. every Sunday to celebrate Holy Mass.

The Lafayette Christian Fellowship, a chapter of Disciple Makers, provides a ministry of prayer, Bible study, support, and leadership development for Christian students. Prayer and fellowship meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. The group also holds student-led Bible studies throughout the week and prayer meetings at 7:30 a.m. weekdays.

The Hillel Society is a religious, cultural, and social organization that sponsors a variety of activities. High Holiday meals are held on campus along with weekly Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony followed by dinner. Hillel House, 520 Clinton Terrace, is the society’s center. Students who wish to keep Jewish dietary laws may request to use the facilities at Hillel House.

The Muslim Student Association provides opportunities for worship and discussion. Students who observe the month of Ramadan may contact MSA for a Ramadan calendar and special dining arrangements. MSA also sponsors lectures and social activities.

Categorized in: Academic News