Lucy Forster-Smith leaving Macalester: Longtime Chaplain will assume new job at Harvard


Chaplain Lucy-Forster Smith. Photo by Naomi Guttman ’16.

Chaplain Lucy-Forster Smith.  Photo by Naomi Guttman ’16.
Chaplain Lucy-Forster Smith.
Photo by Naomi Guttman ’16.

Lucy Forster-Smith has been chaplain at Macalester since 1994. After 20 years of work at the college, she has elected to take positions as a pastor and an administrator at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Forster-Smith will leave her positions of Associate Dean of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (CRSL) and college chaplain on Feb. 10 to begin the new work. The position, which is new to Harvard, combines the existing positions of the Sedgwick Chaplain to the University and the Senior Minister at the Memorial Church. She will be responsible for engaging more than 30 university chaplains who work on behalf of distinct religious communities.

“I anticipate a lot of my job will be working in a very diverse and multifaith arena,” Forster-Smith wrote in an email.

She is also anticipating the opportunity to join a religious community of about 200 students and regular attendees.

“I also will have the opportunity to be a part of a non-denominational liberal Protestant worshipping community with a stunning choir,” she wrote.

Unbeknownst to the longtime chaplain, several of her colleagues in religious fields at other colleges and universities thought she would be a good fit for the new position and recommended her to Harvard.

Forster-Smith’s departure comes at a time when the CRSL is already short-staffed. Associate Chaplain K.P. Hong left Macalester last spring after funding for his position was exhausted. Over the summer, Catholic Chaplain Fr. Bob O’Donnell was reassigned by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
He did not return to Macalester in the fall. Rabbi Barry Cytron remains as the only chaplain currently employed by the college.

Despite the recent upheaval, Forster-Smith looks back favorably on her time at Macalester.

“I will miss the unique humor and wit of Macalester College. People here have a self-effacing humor and also a very quick wit,” she wrote, “[and] the amazing students of this college who are so brilliant, so passionate about their commitments, so irreverent in a charming way, have huge questions about life and its purpose and who roll up their sleeves to honor and support those on this planet who ache for justice.”

Alongside a long list of things and people she would miss about her position, she tried to sum up her overall sentiment cross-linguistically.

“In German it is something like gemutlichkeit – which, I believe, is a quality of cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry.”