Offering open minds and hearts, including and loving all.
Chaplain of the College: The Rev'd Catherine Quehl-Engel
Office location: Third Floor Old Sem (319) 895-4402
Cornell students, faculty, and staff represent numerous religious traditions, diverse traditions within Christianity, non-traditional spirituality, and secular perspectives. As a United Methodist affiliated college, Cornell values this diversity as part of the educational experience and strives to build authentic caring community, mutual appreciation, and respect as we live together amid our religious, cultural, political and other differences. This is one of the many ways we prepare lives for global citizenship, servant leadership, and reconciling virtue in an interdependent, diverse world.
The chaplain provides caring presence, spiritual guide work, and pastoral care (the 'care of souls') to students, faculty, and staff of all backgrounds--including the non-religious. This care is offered amid life's unfolding, joys, questioning, and storms; amid fear and wonder; amid the search for purpose, courage, love, healing, connectedness to others and the world, and signs that this universe and our lives (no matter how messy or confusing) are crammed full of meaning and significant worth.
The chaplain offers voluntary opportunities for spiritual exploration, growth, and practice, as well as safe space for raising searching questions concerning meaning, various theologies/ideas of God, scriptures, identity, and ethics. This office also holds special events such as the Annual Holocaust Lecture and social justice related programs; spiritual road trips to places like the Cedar Rapids Islamic Center; the Spiritual Biography Series featuring the diverse spiritual memoirs of faculty from childhood on; occasional celebrations in the chaplain's home such as for shabbat (frequent collaboration with Hillel); interfaith and cross-cultural encounter and dialogue; and spirituality retreats. She provides mentoring, teaches in the religion department, does advising for students thinking about seminary/divinity school,and creates leadership development opportunities through student chaplain assistant positions, Soul Friends, and Spirituality & Interfaith Understanding/Exploration (the student groups affiliated with this office. Hillel also has a close working relationship with the chaplain). Ecumenical chapel services are also offered which are often described as comfortable even for those having had a negative experience of church). As an Episcopal priest, the chaplain is also available for confession/reconciliation and services of healing. Students seeking a spiritual component to their Cornell experience may turn to the Office of Chaplain & Spiritual Life, to the numerous off campus houses of worship in the area, or to the many independently run student organizations to make the appropriate connections.
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An invitation from the College Chaplain
If you grew up in a faith tradition, that tradition may help you in connecting with community, meaning, and the Holy. Maybe you didn't grow up in a faith tradition. Maybe you did, but need to explore spiritual homes other than your own, or perhaps heal from painful experiences or ideas you encountered there. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, I invite you to explore, heal, or deepen it during your college years.
I also encourage you to engage in ethical reflection, open yourself to wonder, and risk discussing religious, political, cultural and other differences (everything you're told not to discuss at parties or Aunt Martha's Thanksgiving table). While discussing deeply held convictions comes with risk of offending or being offended, through humility and sensitive listening we can learn to appreciate one another and to live with our most significant differences. Practicing it now will prepare you for leadership which our often politically polarized nation, institutions (both religious and secular), and world desperately need for healing and strength. ...To help move us beyond demonizing the other and losing site of civility, graciousness, mercy, the golden rule of loving neighbor as self (practically universal to all the religious of the world and among secular folk), and our oneness amid difference (the stuff of "We the People...').
Know I'm here as one of many mentors and companions on this campus, and as spiritual guide or midwife to help deepen connectedness, roots, and Mindfulness of Meaning, Mystery, Hope, All Reality/God; to help discern spirituality's role as leaven for social justice, compassion, wonder, wholeness, and community; to help you navigate through the wildly joyous times and painful grief times of your life.
The Rev. Catherine Quehl-Engel
Chaplain of the College
Student Chaplain Assistants
These student leaders assist in The Office of Chaplain & Spirituality programs and worship. They make up leadership for Soul Friends, Spirituality & Interfaith Understanding, and office administrative support. They also offer ministry of presence to peers with open hearts and minds.
Interested in being on leadership for Soul Friends or Interfaith Understanding? Read descriptions for these groups; attend a few gatherings, chapels, or programs to feel them out; and make an appointment to talk with the chaplain.
United Methodist Church links:
United Methodist Church Covenant Partnership
A History of the Relationship Between Cornell College and The United Methodist Church<
The General Board of Higher Education & Ministry;
The Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church;
United Methodist Student Loans & Scholarships