Episcopal Bishop for the state of New Jersey Joe Morris Doss recognized JoAnn Leach as the new Chaplain of the Episcopal Church at Princeton in a special service yesterday afternoon.
A full Episcopal service in the University Chapel, including a sermon by Leach's husband, Shannon Leach, accompanied the installation ceremony. Four University students were also confirmed as members of the Episcopal congregation.
As chaplain, Leach is responsible for Episcopal worship at the University. "It means being pastor to the faculty, students and staff here at Princeton. It means you lead worship, do pastoral care, preachingand teaching," Leach explained.
Bishop Doss said being chaplain for the University was a "special" task. "She must be a priest to the students. It's kind of different from congregational life in most other places. This is a special place, doing special things," he said.
Bishop Doss also said that being a pastor in an educational setting like a university can be demanding. "It's not unusual for the chaplain to be quite intellectual."
"This congregation can be closer than most, because everyone's doing the same things," Bishop Doss noted. "It has the potential to be very cohesive, but it needs someone very pastoral, someone with openness, compassion, concern and love."
The Leach family came to Princeton six months ago after they were called by an Episcopal search committee, headed up by chaplain oversight committee member and assistant men's squash coach Bob Callahan.
"Eight of us worked for six months evaluating applicants from the U.S. and overseas. Last July, we called JoAnn and her family," Callahan said.
Leach served as Chaplain for the University of Utah before she and her family moved to Princeton late last summer.
Shannon Leach said he feels welcome in his new home. "It was great how they all came together today for JoAnn's installation," he said.
Bishop Doss said the Episcopal church first allowed women priests in 1976. "We don't have as many women as men because we've only had women priests for about 20 years. We've had enough experience to know it's been a successful enterprise," he said.
Leach noted that much of her congregation may be unaccustomed to having a woman chaplain. "Most students who come in might be more familiar with having a man as a chaplain. It takes some adjustment. I think women bring a different viewpoint of God, not a better viewpoint, but a different one," she explained.
Leach said she was excited about future projects. "I really want to do an international trip to another part of the Anglican community," she said.
Co-convener of the cabinet Chris Beeson '99 said he has enjoyed working with Leach this year. "It has been great. She has a lot of new energy and experience," he said. "She's been working on trying to make students more involved."
Callahan said Leach has already started new initiatives, including Bible classes and a morning prayer program. "She's already made a great impact," Callahan said.