Sexton, Princeton University Chapel
In 1999 Bernie LaFleur came to Princeton as a public safety officer. An amateur musician and artist, Bernie is now the sexton for the Princeton University Chapel where he gets a daily opportunity to intertwine his love of music and art with the understanding of different religions and belief systems.
Bernie is a wealth of knowledge and has learned the intrinsic messages depicted in the beautiful stained glass window panes of the chapel. He believes, “It is rewarding and spiritually beneficial to work here, and learn and meet wonderful people.”
Each year the chapel hosts numerous weddings, funerals and concerts, periodically occurring on the same day. Bernie is the behind-the-scenes person tending to the details for events, such as the Service of Remembrance, Baccalaureate and Opening Exercises. He works with chaplains, musicians, congregants and guests who visit the chapel to perform, worship and learn.
Bernie handles the event logistics and is responsible for setup, breakdown, cleanup and taking care of the event needs of the clergy. He says, “I get to be a part of some of the happiest days of a person’s life and sometimes the saddest days. I just try to anticipate their needs.”
Bernie is one of two sextons in the chapel. He and colleague Lucy Mitchell have worked together for many years. When Bernie is not on duty, he is often attending events taking place inside the chapel. One of his favorite services is the Jazz Vespers, a service composed of meditation with spiritual readings and hymns set to the harmonic sounds of a jazz band. He also takes courses offered by the HR’s Learning and Development Team and the Office of Information and Technology.