Hidden Chaplains in Princeton

“At Princeton we do encounter a lot of rather esteemed people who are lauded and awarded and recognized for their achievements, their intellect, leadership and so on. Many people celebrate these things, and it makes sense to do so.

But very rarely do we celebrate and honor kindness, which is often just as rare, just as precious, and just as consequential as intellect. Today we get to place a name and a recognition to the faces behind the mostly brief encounters that have shaped so many students’ experiencing of Princeton. “

– Renee Louis ’19, in a speech given during the 2019 Hidden Chaplains Dinner

For the past few years at Princeton University, we have given students the opportunity to recognize their hidden chaplains by nominating them in a form. Once we’ve gathered contact information for the hidden chaplains, we let them know of their nomination and invite them to a dinner. During this gathering, we have each of the students share about their hidden chaplain with the larger community, and take portrait photos of the hidden chaplains.

Below are some examples of nominations that students sent in about their hidden chaplains.

“I have known my hidden chaplain since freshman year–her first year here!–and she has been nothing but kind and supportive. She is a staff advisor for four Pace programs and is getting her PhD, yet still makes time and cares deeply for each of her past and present student advisees.”

My hidden chaplain greets everyone with the warmest smile and is genuinely invested in everyone’s lives. You can’t swipe your card in without having him ask you how you’re doing, how your test was, or encourage you to get more sleep. He looks out for everyone and really encourages a sense of family and togetherness. My hidden chaplain learnt my name on my first day on campus and made me feel less alone, he’s definitely my favorite person to chat and hang with on campus.”

My hidden chaplain works as a house manager for the performing arts services, and I met her at Richardson Auditorium. She is thoughtful, kind, generous, funny, and extremely hardworking, but none of these traits beat the fact that my hidden chaplain is a friend, an advisor, and a helping hand, in times that would otherwise be intolerable. My hidden chaplain’s presence on this campus has not only significantly improved my time at Princeton, but also serves as constant inspiration to be humble and righteous.

“I often wake up early in the morning and go down to J Street or the Butler library to write. Almost always, every day, including in the weekend, I meet my hidden chaplain cleaning the library, or the common room, or the bathrooms in my hallway. Sometimes he says hi to me, sometimes he is too busy and doesn’t notice me, but I am always struck by the sheer amount of work he puts into his job; how he wakes up so early in the morning to clean our pathways long before we are even awake. My hidden chaplain is a hero and I hope others would notice that his job is essential to our lives here.