The Chaplains

Protestant Chaplain

The Reverend Joan Cooper Burnett

The Reverend Joan Cooper Burnett (Pastor Joan as she is so fondly called), is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches USA, and serves as the Protestant Chaplain at Wesleyan University and Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church Middletown. Pastor Joan formerly served as Senior Pastor of the Black Church at Yale, at Yale University.

She earned a Masters of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, a Masters of Education in Human Resource Education from Boston University Graduate School, and a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Click here for a full bio.

Pastor Joan is actively engaged in promising efforts to strengthen the Christian identity at Wesleyan, while supporting students in their spiritual formation.

Pastor Joan understands that young adults are often estranged from and not associated with any formalized religious traditions during this time of their lives. She has made great strives to provide a relevant and spiritually uplifting weekly Sunday worship service. It is through these services that students come into a greater knowledge of God and a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pastor Joan also fosters collaboration among existing Christian groups on campus and individual students.

Profile in the Wesleyan Connection.

Office of Religious & Spiritual Life
169 High Street, Room 207
(860) 685-2275

Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 11:00 AM-5:00 PM and by appointment.


Jewish Rabbi


Rabbi David was born on or very close to the Tropic of Capricorn, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Upon learning that he did not qualify for the Brazilian World Cup soccer team, he changed career paths and decided to become a rabbi.

Rabbi David has studied at Columbia University (BA), The Jewish Theological Seminary (BA), Yakar, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (MHL and Rabbinic Ordination), and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

His interests include: trekking in Nepal, making sure the Jewish People not only survive but also thrive, and avoiding speeding tickets.

Rabbi David has served as visiting rabbi and guest lecturer throughout the USA and the world. He has taught on a variety of issues ranging from Hassidic and Spiritual Judaism, to inter-religious dialogue with Muslim communities.

Rabbi David has worked as a Chaplain/Hillel rabbi since 1996 at the following universities: Princeton, UPenn, and Bucknell. He is currently the University Jewish Chaplain at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Feel free to contact Rabbi David at:

Rabbi David Leipziger
University Jewish Chaplain
Wesleyan University
171 Church Street
Middletown, CT 06459

Voice: 860-685-2278


Catholic Chaplain


Fr. Hal comes from Protestant family most of who immigrated to North America by the 1740s. He became a Catholic in Hawaii while attending Punahou School, founded by New England Protestant missionaries.

In school, he read the life of John Henry Newman (up for beatification and sainthood) and became interested in the Oratorians of St Philip Neri. Newman upon becoming a Catholic joined the Oratorians brought the first communities to England. Later, Fr. Hal would do his doctorate in theology at Oxford University in Newman’s theology of the Church.

The Oratory that Fr. Hal joined was the first, and at the time the only one and it was a home missionary group in South Carolina. Fr. Hal was ordained in 1974 and was in turns campus minister, parish priest, and provost of the Oratory from 1974-1991. He was invited by the diocese of Honolulu to found an Oratory there and worked on that from 1991 to 2007. He was a pastor, dean, and director of inter-church and inter-faith outreach.

In 2008, Fr. Hal was asked to be the Catholic chaplain in the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life at Wesleyan with Rabbi David Teva as director. There had not been a chaplain for two years.

Fr. Hal’s interests are fairly quiet ones: literature, music, and animals, especially dogs and pigs.

To learn more about Fr. Hal please read an interview featured in the Argus
phone number is 685-2777


Muslim Chaplain

Chaplain Marwa’s Blog -Updated Regularly

Marwa Aly is the full time Muslim chaplain at Wesleyan University and Trinity College.
She was born and raised in New York. Her
parents are originally from Alexandria, Egypt
and she also has two brothers. She graduated
with honors from Fordham University with
a double major in Philosophy and Middle
Eastern Studies. She is currently working on her
Master’s in Islamic Studies and Christian-
Muslim Relations and her Certificate in
Islamic Chaplaincy. Before working at
Wesleyan University and Trinity College, she
was the first Muslim Chaplain that served the
Manhattanville College community located in Purchase, New York for a
year and a half. While studying abroad in Egypt, she was given the chance to
interview at Wesleyan and Trinity and is honored to be a part of both communities.
She is also advisor to Turath House, and to MSA-CT Council which is an umbrella
organization for MSAs around Connecticut. Through her chaplaincy work, Chaplain
Aly hopes that people will comfortable asking about Islam and Muslims and a rich,
holistic approach can be manifested within the two campuses. From the Argus…

The university Muslim Chaplain works with other chaplains to maintain and
enhance religious and spiritual life on campus in five core areas:

Ministry: Offering spiritual guidance in Friday sermons through training community
leaders, and fulfilling other religious rituals.

Guidance counseling: Assisting students with life’s simple and difficult challenges,
from theological concerns to family relations to time management, and
everything in between.

Advocacy: Working closely with university administration in ensuring that essential
Muslim needs are accommodated on campus, including prayer space, halal dining
options, etc.

Teaching: Organizing educational seminars, lectures, forums, and discussions

throughout the year on a variety of topics relating to Islamic beliefs, ethics, and spirituality, which are open to the entire campus community.

Building interfaith relations: Developing opportunities and programs for healthy
conversations and activities between religious communities on campus.

You can reach Marwa at 860-685-2277 or  Her  office is at 169 High Street, Room 210.


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