WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Prior to coming to Wellesley in 2015, she served as Dean of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University, a job she said "she absolutely loved." Wellesley College's reputation as a leader in cultivating an open and welcoming multifaith community amidst the rigor of academic inquiry, however, made the position of Dean irresistible. Steinwert said that since this early 1990s, Wellesley College has been forging a new model for engaging religious diversity and spirituality as part of its overall academic program. "It's all about head and heart," she said. Wellesley College now supports a wide variety of faiths and beliefs including Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian (Evangelical, Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic), Hindu, Humanist, Indigenous Peoples, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Native American, Pagan, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, Zoroastrian traditions, and spiritual seekers of all kinds, Steinwert said. More than just recognizing different faiths, the core of Wellesley's program fosters interreligious understanding and dialogue aimed at equipping students with the intellectual and practical skills necessary to be what she calls "literate" citizens in a religiously diverse world. One example of this, Steinwert said, was the large community turnout for the ancient Hindu festival of Diwali celebrated in the fall. Everyone learned about the ritual of scrubbing one's house in prepara- tion for welcoming the Goddess Lakshmi who is believed to value cleanliness and chooses to visit the cleanest house first. "We can all think about what we need to let go of and how to declut- ter our souls to receive divine light," Steinwert said, regardless of one's own faith tradition. It is all right to look at things through a different lens, she said. "If you never question, what kind of faith do you have?" Another way she's been steadily building community has been to lead 20-minute mindfulness meditations each morning that are open to all. "It ends in time to make it to the first class," Steinwert said. She also serves a Thursday afternoon tea in the Multifaith Center located in the basement of Houghton Memorial Chapel at the center of the campus. Taking regular time out from very busy schedules for quiet and contemplation is gaining more and more traction as a way to effec- tively manage stress, Steinwert said. "If this is a skill they can master as college students, they will benefit from it for their whole lives." There's also a new practice of using social media to promote "pop up chaplains" who show up at random places on campus, such as cafes, the library, or hangout nooks to talk with students. There is also a weekly lunch meeting held in the dining hall called "Taste of Traditions" in which chaplains discuss a variety of texts from the Bible to an Audre Lorde poem. "I could not do this work without the chaplains, they are the incar- nation of this office," Steinwert said, "and the students love them." No matter what your faith or beliefs are, with our harried lives and chaotic world, religious and spiritual practices can be beneficial to one's health and well-being. 92 Our Religous Leaders W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 6

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