This week, the Rev. Dr. Hilary Cooke became the new chaplain at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, the Episcopal Church campus ministry at Purdue University. One of her top priorities is dismantling common campus misconceptions about Christianity.
“I’m really excited to be present on Purdue’s campus because we live in a community that is very diverse, but the predominant Christian voice here is a pretty conservative evangelical voice,” Cooke says. “I want people to know that the Episcopal Church is here, and we are Christian and we love Jesus. And we also love LGBTQI folks, and we want to address the chronic illness of racism.”
“I think we have a real opportunity to do exciting and innovative things in the Episcopal Church,” she says. “And a college campus is a great place to do that. I love working with young adults — I love how they are discerning and exploring ideas.”
Cooke grew up in Burlington, Vermont, where her mother is a deacon and her father is a professor. Her new job is a return Good Shepherd, where she served as associate priest in 2006 and 2007 alongside the Rev. Peter Bunder, who served as chaplain for 34 years before his retirement in August.
Cooke’s connection to Good Shepherd, however, began many decades ago. “My roots here go way back,” she said in a letter to the community. “My mother attended Good Shepherd when she was a student at Purdue in the 60s. In fact, my parents were married at Good Shepherd.”
Until the end of September, Cooke was associate rector at St. John’s in Lafayette, and she believes the parish and the campus ministry have an opportunity for deeper connection.
“It’s funny, because I really loved being at St. John’s and I was not planning to leave” she says. “But when this opportunity at Good Shepherd was presented to me, the people at St. John’s said, ‘we’re so sad to lose you, but it’s so clear that God is calling us as a greater Episcopal Community – Lafayette and West Lafayette – to support this campus community.’”
Cooke’s first Sunday as chaplain at Good Shepherd is October 13. After the 10 a.m. Eucharist, the community will host a celebration to welcome her. Learn more.