Moving to a new town or city can be challenging and often the most daunting piece is finding a sense of community. For university students this can be even more challenging, especially when you’re trying to find your spiritual home.

Fortunately, Syracuse University has a thriving and diverse multi-faith community, thanks to the late Senator Francis Hendricks and many others. In the 1920s Senator Hendricks donated funds to build a chapel in honor of his wife, Eliza Jane Hendricks. He planned for Hendricks Chapel to be welcoming to all, and in 1930 it opened its doors as “a home for all faiths and place for all people.”

It’s curious to think about the definition of the word chapel and its counterpart, chaplain. Chapels are often found in places where a dedicated place of quietude or reflection is needed.

Dean of Hendricks Chapel Brian Konkol (left) and Buddhist Chaplain Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz smile during a retreat
The Rev. Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel, and Buddhist Chaplain Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz share a moment together during a recent chapel retreat.

Unlike most churches, mosques, synagogues or temples, Hendricks Chapel is not tied to one particular religion. Chaplains often represent a religion, but any chaplain at Syracuse University is called upon as a trusted and confidential advisor available to all students. Our chaplains, including an imam, a rabbi, a priest and several pastors, work together under the umbrella of Hendricks Chapel. They share resources and talents to better serve our students.

The chapel hosts nine chaplaincies, 25 student-led religious and spiritual groups, and sponsors over 1,000 programs for more than 500,000 annual attendees. Hendricks Chapel employs student workers, supports musical ensembles, offers direct assistance through the Student Opportunity Fund and Food Pantry, and partners throughout the campus community to advance academic excellence at a university welcoming to all. To help students learn about resources, welcome letters from various chaplains have been sent via email, in addition to a letter from Dean of Hendricks Chapel Brian Konkol.

While many students enter Syracuse University with a defined religious or spiritual identity, there are many others who perceive themselves as “spiritual but not religious” or perhaps identify with multiple traditions or none at all. Whatever the case, at Hendricks Chapel there is a place for all students regardless of identity or practice, and we invite all to find a sense of community, perhaps with one of the following tips and tricks.

1. First of all, Hendricks Chapel is a great place to hang out. Whether sitting in the main chapel for quiet reflection, grabbing a coffee at People’s Place Café or studying in the Noble Room, you can easily get a sense of Hendricks Chapel’s vibe by spending time in the building.

three students sit together in the Noble Room in Hendricks Chapel, talking and enjoying coffee
Hendricks Chapel’s Noble Room is a great spot to find community or catch up with friends.

2. There is no obligation to join a group. You can attend one session to learn if you like it, and you are free to return (or not) without pressure. All gatherings are listed on Syracuse’s Community Calendar.

3. Play the piano and charge your phone! The Noble Room on the chapel’s lower level has a piano that you can play (while being sensitive to others who may be studying!) and you may also charge your phone at one of the courtesy charging stations.

4. It’s better with friends. If you’re nervous, recruit a fellow student to attend a gathering with you. If your friends are going to Taco Tuesday, tag along.

four students in Syracuse sweatshirts enjoy a treat at the Hendricks Chapel ice cream social
Students enjoyed a sweet treat at the New Student Ice Cream Social hosted by Hendricks during Syracuse Welcome.

5. Attend an event! Hendricks hosts many events sponsored by chaplaincies or one of our religious and spiritual life groups, and many others that partner with academic departments, campus divisions or other registered student organizations.

6. Music and Message is a weekly gathering filled with inspirational messages and wonderful music from the Hendricks Chapel choir, Setnor School of Music musicians and visiting groups.

7. Try new things! During Interfaith Exploration Week, held each spring, you can participate in over 40 programs such as Jumuah Prayer (Muslim), Mass (Catholic), Shabat Services (Jewish), Campus Church (Baptist), Meditation (Buddhist/Multifaith) and more!

8. Join a community service project. You can find upcoming opportunities on the Syracuse Community Calendar.

9. Keep trying. Just like brussels sprouts, you may have your doubts after just one taste. So, allow yourself a little time to adjust.

10. Visit with the chaplains, Dean Konkol or any members of our team. Call the chapel at 315.443.2901 or email and we are happy to help!

11. Work or volunteer at Hendricks! The chapel is always accepting volunteers to staff the food pantry or events. Hendricks also hires students as hospitality associates and People’s Place baristas throughout the school year.

12. Peruse the Hendricks Chapel website to learn more about our community, events and chaplaincies.

In this time of great discovery, now you know that there is always a welcoming community at Hendricks Chapel!