The Rev. Dr. Catherine Quehl-Engel+ ('89)
Chaplain of the College
(319) 895-4402

Office location: Third Floor Old Sem 
Hours: M-F before 4:30 p.m. Walk-ins welcome, though appointments assure availability.


Borrowing the words of that tenacious French saint, Therese of Lisieux, my vocation is love. While far from a saint, as a mystically wired college chaplain I live out this vocation by providing spiritual guidance, exploration, voluntary devotional expression, and opportunities for manifesting love and healing peace in our individual and collective lives on campus and in our world.   Care and growth of souls happens not only through one-on-one mentoring and spiritual care, but also through programmatic offerings ranging from spiritual practices (i.e. praying with scripture, interior prayer/meditation modalities, labyrinth walks, and other mind-body-spirit practices), compassionate service, and retreats, to social justice and inter-faith dialogue circles.  

It is a privilege to spiritually accompany students, faculty, and staff as they sojourn on their life journeys, seek transformative healing, and explore the BIG questions (i.e. about suffering, differing understandings of the Divine, beauty in the flaw, hope, life purpose, love).  This is done with people from diverse backgrounds within Christianity and other faith traditions, among the spiritual-but-not-religious, and those with secular perspectives.  Together we explore their interior lives, discern their sense of meaning and purpose, and expand their awareness of inter-connective oneness between self, others, creation, and--for many though not all--the Divine.

In addition to the various clubs and organizations, The Chaplain & Spiritual Life Office provides voluntary opportunities for spiritual expression, solace, and growth on an ongoing basis through Soul Feast Chapel w/ Peace Eucharist (Holy Communion) on Wednesday, and  Meditation, Interior Prayer & Mindfulness on Fridays.  I also serve as advisor to Hillel, our Muslim Student Organization, and a variety of other student orgs.  Approximately 15-20 students serve on The Office of Chaplain & Spiritual Life Leadership team and I welcome you and others who are interested.  This leadership team consists of two groups: Spiritus (an open mind and hearted ecumenical Christian organization), and Interfaith Exploration & Understanding. 

Through the Religion Department, I've created and taught Jesus and Judaism, Suffering and the Sacred, as well as Namaste: Mysticism, Meditation, and Servant Leadership--a contemplative and service-learning Hindu and Christian inter-spirituality course in India.  A future course on Christian Mysticism, Contemplative Wisdom & Practice is also in the works.  Pre-theology, ministerial vocation advising, and related mentoring occur through this office. 

As an Episcopal priest serving in an ecumenical and interfaith ways at this United Methodist affiliated school, I am a Christian who honors diverse religious, spiritual-but-not-religious, and secular  perspectives, knowing we are are at our best as a compassionate, just, and democratic society and educational institution when this is so.  For over two decades I have participated in, studied, and fostered interfaith understanding, reconciliation, and bridge building.  This is not about erasing our distinct identities.  It is about honoring the authenticity of our differing experiences and lenses for meaning making.  It is also about owning the sins of the past and present where both religious and anti-religious hate, fear, ignorance, and violence divide and diminish. It is about amplifying inter-spiritual, universal wisdom; increasing awareness of our shared values, virtues, and pathways for healing.  In otherwords: loving kindness, humility, graciousness and tender mercy, relinquishment, forgiveness, justice, honoring the stranger as self, and uplifting the down trodden and oppressed.   For me personally it comes down to theological humility and the Way of self-emptying; meekness before Mystery; oneness with the Divine leading to loving oneness with all. 


Doctor of Ministry in Christian Spirituality, Washington Theological Union, District of Columbia (2014).   

M.Div. and M.A. Arts, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA (1994) After graduating from Cornell in 1989 I received Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees from Pacific School of Religion (1994) in Berkeley, CA.  M.A. work included study at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Center/Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and thesis work focusing upon the intersection of theology of human suffering, history of Jewish-Christian relations, and religion & the visual arts.

B.A., Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA (1989)

Other:  PhD. program in Theology, Ethics, & Culture, The University of Iowa School of Religion (1994-96).  Left program to be a mom and chaplain of Cornell College. 


  • Doctoral dissertation:  Deep Abiding: Praying, Living, & Loving From The Inside Out (2014)
  • Namaste: Visual Meditations on Mystical Theology & The Divine Within Cornell College; The Lincoln Cafe; Trinity Episcopal-Iowa City (2009-2010) 
  • Mother & Child & Namaste Mandela images in ECVA's "Ubuntu" Exhibit, Summer 2009
  • Inner Journey Iowa State Fair B/W Photo Exhibition entry ('09)
  • Incarnation: Reflections on the Spirit of Dr. MeersWapsipinicon Almanac, No. 14, 2007.           
  •  "Modern Jewish Art and the Crucifixion: a Study in Appropriation." Soundings: An Interdisciplinary 
    Vol. LXXX, No. 1 (Spring 1997):133-152.
  • "Christian Theology After the Jewish Use of Christological Imagery in Holocaust Art" The Holocaust: Lessons for the Third Generation. Ed. Dominick A. Iorio, Richard L. Libowitz, 
    and Marcia S. Littell. University Press of America, 1997. 81-90.

SERVICE: I serve as Associate Priest in a voluntary capacity at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City, Iowa.  I have also served on various Boards and Commissions for The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa including the Board of Directors, Stragetic Planning, and as Director of Diocesan Ministry School and Retreat.

My ministry includes work as a healer through spiritual guidance, healing touch spiritual ministry and reiki.

JOYS & ESSENTIALS: Belly laughter.  Playfulness.  Being a wife and mom.  Long distance runs along flowing Iowa fields.  Abstract landscape painting.  Giving healing energy treatments, and leading both retreats and mind-body-spirit practices. Study of mystical, contemplative theology is a love, as is related contemplative wisdom and spiritual practices from both Eastern and Western traditions.