The Gustavian Weekly

Purpose Pause allows Gustavus faculty to share their insights | The Gustavian Weekly

By Jack Weissenberger - Staff Writer | November 15, 2019 | News

The Chaplains’ Office is constantly looking to create deep and meaningful connections throughout the Gustavus campus, and the best time for this is during the Daily Sabbath. A new feature of Daily Sabbath this year was the addition of a Purpose Pause. This weekly event has taken place in Christ Chapel almost every Tuesday since the beginning of the school year.

“Be inspired for the journey of purposeful living as students interview Gustavus employees about their experiences discovering their talents, living out their values, and making a difference in the world,” the Gustavus website for Purpose Pause reads.

During Purpose Pause, students have gotten the opportunity to hear from their faculty leaders and learn from their values and experiences. This is all part of a larger plan from the Chaplains’ Office.

“Purpose Pause is part of a larger purposeful living initiative to equip students to lead purposeful lives and to act on the great challenges of our time,” Chaplain Siri Erickson said.

To accomplish this, Gustavus employees from many different departments on campus have been brought in during Sabbath to talk about their values, and experiences in making a difference in the world, which talks are conducted through interviews with chosen student representatives.

“My Purpose Pause talk was about Jodi Maas and the journey that led her to Gustavus and what she feels she has been called to do. My personal goal as the interviewer was to ask questions that would help [Maas] reveal her amazing self to the student body that doesn’t have the pleasure of interacting with her every day,” Junior Isabel St. Dennis said.

St. Dennis’ interview was the first of the month-it took place on Nov. 5. This opportunity allowed Maas, the Assistant Director in Church Relations and the Champlain’s office, to talk about her experiences and to connect with students.

“I think Purpose Pause is a really cool way to get faculty and students interacting on a more personal level. I also like it as a chapel event because I feel like it allows the speaker to be more comfortable with talking about the religious aspects of their vocation,” St. Dennis said.

Typically, staff members do not get the opportunity to discuss their personal beliefs in class. This event offers them the opportunity to share their experiences and hopefully encourage the conversation to continue.

“Through these interviews, we hope to spark many more conversations, formal and informal, about people’s diverse experiences of seeking to live a purposeful life.  We hope people across campus will join the conversation,” Erickson said.

So far, the talks have been well received. The feedback received from students has been positive and the conversations brought up during Sabbath have continued outside the chapel.

“The Purpose Pause interviews have been going really well. I think students enjoy hearing from faculty and staff about how their lives have taken shape in meaningful ways. We’ve heard about important mentors, turning points, life lessons, values, and stories that have shaped people’s lives and career paths. It is inspirational to hear how much Gustavus employees love working with students through their chosen professions and how they balance that with family and community roles and responsibilities,” Erickson said.

The feedback has been encouraging for the Chaplains’ Office and the Chaplains have been happy to hear all the positivity resulting from these interviews.

“We plan to continue this program for the rest of the year and possibly for the next several years. I would love to see more students of all backgrounds coming out to hear these different purposeful living stories from Gustavus faculty and staff. Purpose Pause is not a religious worship service; it is simply a twenty-minute interview intended to inspire people to lives of meaning and purpose. I hope that all students know they are welcome to come to the chapel for these student-led Purpose Pause interviews,” Erickson said.

While the interviews take place in the chapel, they are not directed towards one religious group or another. Everyone is being welcomed to these informational interviews.

“I would definitely like to see Purpose Pause continue in the future so I can get to know other staff. I think it is beneficial to those who attend because it’s a moment during the day where you can relax and learn something new about someone,” St. Dennis said.

This new Sabbath event has offered students the opportunity to learn more about some important people on campus. The next Purpose Pause interview will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 19 when Senior Anna Duong-Topp will interview Associate Professor in Religions and Japanese Studies John Chai. The Chaplains’ Office wants all students to feel welcome to partake in the Sabbath.

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