A Word on "Presence" from Dean Brian Konkol

Presence is precious.

Presence is precious, and as many of us have learned in recent months, presence is all too often unappreciated.

To be present is not merely about sharing the same physical space, but presence is about a sustained commitment to a shared experience. When we are present with others, especially in times of crisis, we provide others with permission to stop hoping for a better past, we cultivate the conditions for grace and grit, and we offer a faithful foundation for a more life-giving future.

In the midst of these important times at Syracuse University, I am increasingly convinced that one of the greatest blessings we can offer each other is the power of our presence. We as human beings are, I do believe, relational beings. A person is only a person through other people, we need each other to become ourselves, and all of life is intimately and intricately interconnected. If I have learned anything over these past months, I have learned that being present with others can illuminate and ignite the fullness of our collective lives.

This semester we at Hendricks Chapel will be called upon to be present with the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Syracuse University. As we celebrate this 90th year of Hendricks Chapel, we recognize that the “how” of our efforts have changed a great deal, especially over the past months, yet the “why” of our efforts has fully remained. As a “home for all faiths” and a “place for all people” we are called upon to be present, and by accompanying the fullness of our campus community, our team will continue to lead in service to our common good through religious, spiritual, moral and ethical life. As crisis holds the capacity to spark both clarity and courage, we promise to do our part, and we thank you for such guidance and support as we reconfigure our methods and reaffirm our mission.

As you learn more about some of our programs and services in this newsletter, I wish to share how grateful I am for such a dedicated team at Hendricks Chapel, for I have already witnessed a great deal of sacrifice and effort in order to provide our students with a safe and meaningful Fall Semester. Over the past months we have increased our visibility and vibrancy, those in need of care have been embraced, and thousands of individuals now engage with our programs and services each week through various platforms. I believe that we at Hendricks Chapel, the “spiritual heart” of Syracuse University, have accepted our sacred responsibility to model and promote what is required to sustain the health and hope of our campus community. We are doing what we can to meet this extraordinary moment, and while we have much to do and a great deal to improve upon, I could not be more proud to serve alongside such an extraordinary team.

On behalf of the student-leaders, chaplains, staff, and religious and spiritual advisors of Hendricks Chapel, we thank you for being so present with us. Presence is indeed precious, and presence is indeed powerful. We promise to honor the gift of your presence by doing all that we can and being all that we can, to the best of our abilities, this day and always.

With gratitude,

Rev. Brian E. Konkol, Ph.D. Signature

The Rev. Brian E. Konkol, Ph.D.
Dean, Hendricks Chapel
Professor of Practice, Department of Religion