As a Chaplain and the Director of Campus Ministries, Reverend Maggie Falenschek finds her job’s purpose in caring, supporting, and promoting what the Gustavus community builds and values.
“I provide care and support for students and staff from any or all philosophical worldviews or religious backgrounds. I also oversee all Christian programming on campus, which often means being head cheerleader for all of our talented student leaders,” Falenschek said.
Before coming to Gustavus, Falenschek served as pastor of a congregation in Illinois.
Early on, she found a sense of belonging among campus communities and now considers her role at Gustavus her dream job.
“However, when I first saw the job posting and applied, I thought the chances of getting the job were slim. I’m young (this is relative, I realize), I had only been a pastor for 3 years, and I really don’t look or act like the typical image of a pastor or college chaplain. The advantage of feeling like an underdog, though, is that I entered the interview process being one hundred percent authentically myself, feeling like I had nothing to lose. That resonated (I think), I got the job, and I am so thankful every day I get to show up on campus and do what I get to do,” Falenschek said.
According to Falenschek, her journey as a Gustie has been “wild,” as it is constantly challenging her to adapt yet simultaneously rewarding her with enriching knowledge and experience.
“I recently added a “three crowns” tattoo to my collection. This statement is less of a ‘rah rah, yay institution of Gustavus’ kind of thing and more in the spirit of immense gratitude that I feel daily to be able to do this work, with these people, in this place called Gustavus,” Falenschek said.
Reverend Falenschek said that there are “no typical days” in her work at Gustavus Adolphus College.
One can find the Chaplain working at different places on campus, as well as getting involved with and supporting various student organizations and departments.
“I really like to do my job in the spirit of community organizing. That means that I often find myself around campus partnering with different divisions and departments, listening to students and student needs, and adjusting my day and work accordingly. I plan and oversee a lot of programming, meet with students one-on-one, can often be found on campus ‘after-hours’ supporting various student orgs, especially the United Christian ministries,” Falenschek said.
Falenschek emphasizes the importance of openminded-ness towards different individual worldviews, which Gustavus integrates in its education.
“I appreciate the values of community, service, and justice that underline the college’s mission as these are also things that I value as a person of faith navigating life in a messy world.
I love working with students and seeing you share your unique strengths and gifts for the betterment of our world. I am honored and humbled anytime a student wants to meet with me to share their struggles or joys,” Chaplain Falenschek said.
Falenschek considers building connections with students her number one goal.
Besides her focus on helping students, she is looking forward to Christmas in Christ Chapel and Sunday worship.
“Christmas in Christ Chapel is coming and it’s going to be amazing. My talented colleague Siri is the artistic director this year, and we’re doing some really cool stuff in Sunday worship that I’m excited about,” Falenschek said.
Another important part of her plan for this semester is self-care.
“I do this by running abnormally long distances for fun, going to therapy, spending as much time outdoors as I can, smothering my two dogs with love, going to concerts with my spouse, and learning and creating as much as I can,” Falenschek said.
The Director of Campus Ministries finds her most recent favorite Gustie memory so far in weekly Sunday worship.
“There are probably a lot of big memories I could share but this is a small thing that feels big. I think of weekly Sunday worship, when we’re all gathered around the giant communion table in the chapel, sharing what we’re thankful for in that moment. That is a gift that I get to experience every week and it never gets old,” Falenschek said.
Falenschek would like to send an encouraging message to the Gustie community.
“I value authenticity and try to embody that in my life. I live with mental illnesses and I proudly admit that I need both Jesus and medication and professional help to thrive. I care deeply about the students at Gustavus, even the ones I’ve never met. If you see me working around campus, please interrupt me. I love to talk about life and am a good listener if you need to rant. I’m here to help and I want you to succeed,” Falenschek said.