Rooke Chapel celebrates 50th anniversary

Caroline Fassett, Staff Writer

On Oct. 26, Rooke Chapel celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special mass called “Weaving Together the Threads of Our Spiritual Lives—Rooke Chapel & Beyond.”

University Chaplain John Colatch, who leads the weekly Protestant worship services of Rooke Chapel Congregation, informed the alumni and student-filled crowd that the true anniversary had actually occurred the day before.

“I thought it was easier to get you here on Sunday rather than Saturday,” Colatch said.

The Georgian colonial-style chapel is a gift from Robert L. Rooke, an alumnus from the Class of 1913. The chapel was named in honor of Rooke’s parents, Charles M. and Olive S. Rooke. On Oct25, 1964, the church was dedicated with a morning and afternoon service, and has since served as a place of worship for all members of the community.

Throughout the service, Colatch praised the openness and sense of unity offered by the chapel.

“This is a building that has doors that are never closed to anyone,” Colatch said. “This is a place where friends are, and where friendships are continued.”

Mukta Phatak ’18 sang in the Rooke Chapel Choir in addition to sharing a Hindu Word of Greeting on Sunday morning. She and four other students, all of different religious traditions ranging from Muslim to Bahá’í to Jewish to Catholic, greeted the audience in ways reflecting their religious backgrounds.

“It was interesting, because I think now more people know that I’m Hindu. I don’t think people knew that before, or knew what kind of scripture existed in Hinduism,” Phatak said.

In addition to finding the service very moving, Phatak agreed with Colatch in that Rooke Chapel provides a sense of community that is hard to find elsewhere.

“It’s definitely here. I see all the people I sing with [in the Chapel Choir] around school, and it’s nice to know people, and know that they care about you,” Phatak said.

Nearing the end of the service, Trustee Emeritus Robert C. Rooke spoke, informing the crowd of how Rooke Chapel came to be. He also shared a story pertaining to his late father’s version of the Tennessee Waltz, drawing laughs from the audience.

Colatch said that he looks forward to the next 50 years of being a part of the chapel, and hopes that those in the crowd do too.

“I don’t know most of you, but I know that you know this place, and it beats in your heart. We’re a part of Bucknell. We’re a family, in all connotations of the word,” Colatch said.

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