Meet Chaplain Maggie

Posted on December 4th, 2018 by

Chaplain Maggie Falsenschek believes that it’s important to lead from a place of authenticity.  

Maggie was raised in the ELCA tradition, but it wasn’t until college that she  really came to appreciate her specific denomination. It was then that she was able to examine scripture, learn about different components of her faith, and study with others of different faith backgrounds.  By experiencing differences, she was able to reinforce her values. Through diversity, she solidified her identity.

She believes that to lead a religious life is an intentional practice: it’s a commitment to something outside yourself.  This sense of an outside calling or duty is what led Maggie to become ordained. She felt that her path to seminary was something determined by a higher power that was affirmed by herself and those around her.  The job suits her because she gets to be around people and share the good news of God’s undying love.

Being part of the ELCA is important to the Chaplain personally because of the theological lens it gives her.  She finds there is an emphasis on reformation, on “constant adjustment for a better way of living in the fields of justice, society, and self improvement.”  To Maggie, grace is a large part of this constant improvement. She says it’s a “free gift from God that puts us back into right relations with the divine and each other”.  This is not given cheaply, because it calls us to change ourselves and follow a path of repentance, reckoning, and reconciliation. These three ‘r’s are an important part of the cycle of grace.

Another ‘r’ that matters to Maggie is a word that she finds helps to sum up her religion: resurrection, or new life.  To her, this means that “death and brokenness are not the final answer in our lives and our worlds. There is hope for healing and reconciliation and for things to change and get better.”

Another part of the theological lens that Maggie gains from Lutheranism is her view of God.  There is a trinitarian tradition in Lutheranism that tells Maggie about the separate persons within God: God the Parent, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.*  The spirit is the part that works in mysterious ways, whereas Jesus is the most tangible version of the Lord. One of her current favorite parts of the bible is John 11, when Jesus weeps for the loss of a friend. To Maggie, this verse shows that he feels like us, he cries as we do.  Chaplain Maggie places emphasis on Jesus’s ministry. In Maggie’s view, Jesus focused on turning hurt into healing and bringing those who were cast aside into the community. Maggie strives to do the same.

One reason that Maggie is sensitive to those who are hurting is that she herself lives with with anxiety and trichotillomania (compulsively pulling out one’s hair). She refuses to let this be a point of shame.  It is simply a part of who she is. This is why it’s important to her that she serve as a spiritual resource, counsellor, listening ear, and source of comfort for all students regardless of religious background.  She asks students who are struggling to reach out. She wants them to know that they are not alone and that she knows what it feels like to struggle. She’s here for students, as is the entire Chaplains’ office and other campus resources like the Counseling Center.

Though new to the Gustavus community, Chaplain Maggie hopes to build a connection with all of us. She hopes to engage with students of all religious backgrounds in their exploration of faith and its interactions with justice, ethics, and science. Justice and allyship are highly important to her.  

Chaplain Maggie was previously a pastor of a congregation, but is overjoyed to be part of a college. She loves the big questions that students in higher education ask.  She believes that spirituality often goes hand in hand with learning and growth. Religious learning or scholarship in particular, she thinks, is useful for the understanding of our neighbors and the insights of diverse viewpoints.  For Christian individuals she hopes scholarship can give them a bigger picture of God’s image. She doesn’t see scholarly investigation as putting God in a box, but rather opening God up to be bigger than ever imagined.

”We’re here when life is going great, we’re here when life is going poorly, and we can be a constant resource throughout those highs and lows.”

 

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