January 31, 2017

“My mom didn’t want me to be a minister,” said the Rev. Maureen Seifried ’04. “She is a pastor’s wife and knows firsthand the expectations of parish life.”

Then her mother saw Seifried, a double major in religion and psychology, participate in a chapel service at Susquehanna University and realized it was a natural fit.

Despite her own initial hesitancy, Seifried spent her time at Susquehanna preparing—consciously or not—for a life in the ministry.

She served as a student deacon, participated in activities with residents from a local care facility and led campus outreach on Lutheran Youth Day. She took classes with Karla Bohmbach, professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and Associate Professor Jeffrey Mann that gave Seifried a theological and historical background of Christianity and other religions, and offered instruction on dealing with grief.

“For me, my education was a spiritual growth opportunity,” Seifried said. “It opened the door to the beginnings of what it’s like to lead ministry within the church.”

After graduation, she enrolled at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Her first placement was at a two-point parish in Punxsutawney, Pa.

In November, she was installed as an associate pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church, Willow Street, Pa., in Lancaster County. Her role includes sharing worship and Holy Communion responsibilities with the senior pastor, pastoral care and hospital visitation, as well as youth and family ministry.

“I’m also looking forward to discovering how else I can use my gifts for ministry in this setting,” she said, while acknowledging that pastors today face some challenges.

“The church used to be the center of social and community life and now the church is on the margins, but we don’t really know how to enter back into people’s lives in a meaningful way,” she said. “We can theorize, but how do we find our place in this ever-changing culture and still be faithful to our following of Jesus?”

Seifried encouraged students interested in pursuing a career in ministry to stay connected to their faith, whatever it might be.

“Connect to your church if you have a church. If you don’t, stay connected to religious life on campus,” she said. “Connect with those religious leaders that you identify with so that you have someone who can help you discern your call.”