Following is the letter to the community sent by Head of School Alixe Callen and the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, announcing the Rev. Jackie Kirby would become the 19th chaplain of St. George's. Jackie was installed as chaplain on Jan. 18.
“It is with great pride and delight that the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, and I announce the appointment of Jackie Kirby as the Chaplain of St. George’s School, effective immediately,” Head of School Alixe Callen wrote to the St. George’s community on Nov. 9, 2017. The Rev. Kirby becomes the school’s first female chaplain and will be installed during a formal service on Thursday, January 18, 2018, at 9:45 a.m. in the St. George’s Chapel.
A graduate of Yale Divinity School with a Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale, the Rev. Kirby was named St. George’s Interim Chaplain last spring after serving for two years as the school’s Associate Chaplain. She teaches several courses in our Religious Studies Department and was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood at St. George’s in January 2015.
“Over the course of just a few months in the interim role, the Rev. Kirby has launched a number of chapel initiatives, all of which have been wonderfully received by students,” Ms. Callen said. Included among these is a course that prepares students to deliver chapel talks; “Chapel Group,” in which students meet twice a month to provide input into the religious and spiritual life of the school; and a student-led, interfaith chapel service, which takes place on Tuesday evenings after study hall. For faculty, the Rev. Kirby also leads a book group, out of which has grown additional programming for students in the area of community life.
“I am honored and grateful and humbled,” the Rev. Jackie Kirby said upon the announcement she had been officially named Chaplain of St. George’s. “To be the spiritual leader of this amazing community is an incredible responsibility.”
The Rev. Kirby brings a wealth of both faith work and teaching to the Hilltop. Early in her career, Jackie was a teacher, both abroad in Guatemala and Indonesia, and in the Boston area. While writing her dissertation, she was an adjunct professor at Bentley College and Boston University. She later became a full English professor in the writing program at B.U., and she was the lead founder of the Frederick Douglass Charter School in Boston.
The Rev. Kirby and her husband Ed and 9-year-old daughter Annie moved into Haffner House over the summer. “I really believe I have the best job on campus,” she said. “I am so fortunate to be able to talk to students and adults about the things that matter most in their lives. I get to teach what I find to be the most inspiring and important material possible. And I get to preach to the whole school about the values and beliefs that mean the most to me … Everything I do feels like God's work.”