Check Out Chapel House


As any Colgate student or alumnus will tell you, life in little Hamilton isn’t always as quaint or slow as an outside observer might assume. There is a distinct intensity to life at ’Gate, as students spend four years perfecting the ever- so-precarious balancing act: juggling rigorous academics, extracurricular over-commitment and college social life. It’s also no secret that the daily hustle and bustle of campus life during the semester can take a bit of a toll on Colgate’s sleep-deprived, over-extended student body, and the allure of a slower, quieter, calmer space can certainly seem enticing.

Hence Chapel House, tucked away just a few minutes up the road from Frank Dining Hall. This small sanctuary and retreat center, built in 1959, welcomes Colgate students and community members. In addition to opportunities for quiet retreat, spiritual inquiry and artistic study, Chapel House also offers weekly meditation sessions for any who choose to participate. These sessions, led by either SUNY-ESL Doctoral Candidate Catherine Landis or Colgate Professor of Psychology Richard Braaten, meet every Tuesday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and require no prior experience.

Landis, who led an introductory session Monday, September 8, was quite enthusiastic about the positive aspects of meditation. An experienced meditator, she recalls having first been exposed to meditation through her doctor. 

“I had an illness that wasn’t responding to any treatment, and my physician suggested mediation as treatment that would help,” Landis said. “It did help, and while I did other things, the meditation helped create a quiet and peaceful space for healing to happen.” 

The popularity certainly extends beyond the veterans, however, as over 20 students showed up to the first session, many of whom had little to no prior experience meditating. Take first-year Henry Kim, for example, who had nothing but positive things to say about his first meditation session at Chapel House. 

“It was very calming and peaceful,” Kim said. “I’ve forgotten about some of the things that have been stressing me out recently.” 

Regardless of whether students choose to partake in meditation, there does seem to be something peculiar about the allure of Chapel House. Those familiar are quite enthusiastic with their advocacy for the small building, and after visiting once, it’s quite common for students, faculty and others to return. 

In fact, it seems as though some people never leave. Susan Weitz, who has been working officially as Resident Supervisor for over six years, has been involved with Chapel House since she was 19 years old. 

“When I was a college student in Buffalo, I was lucky enough to be a meditator and to find out from a friend who meditated about this great place at Colgate, which I had never heard of at the time,” Weitz said. She’s continued to come back.

For further information about meditation and Chapel House, contact Resident Supervisor Susan Weitz ([email protected]) or Director of the Chapel House, Director of the Fund for the Study of Great Religions and chair of the Department of Religion Professor Steven Kepnes ([email protected]) of the Religion Department.