A New Chaplain and New Opportunities – The Oracle
Hamline welcomes new chaplain Kelly Figueroa-Ray to the Wesley Center following the retirement of former university chaplain Nancy Victorin-Vangerud this summer.
Anderson’s third floor is undergoing a change this fall. After former chaplain Nancy Victorin-Vangerud retires this summer, new chaplain Kelly Figueroa-Ray is moving into her own office at the Wesley Center, decorated with “migration is beautiful” stickers and numerous books.
“I feel like I’ve found my home. I am delighted to be here for the rest of my life, ”she said. “It’s just great to get to know everyone.”
The Chaplain Role Hamline has responsibilities related to Hamline and the community, ones that Figueroa-Ray has previous experience with.
As chaplain, Figueroa-Ray “guides the spiritual and religious life of Hamline University and directs our engagement with Saint Paul and the community at large,” according to the Faculty and Staff page of the Hamline website, which explains that ‘”she is experienced in community organization, project management and teaching.
Figueroa-Ray comes to Hamline from St. Olaf College. After earning her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia in 2018, she began teaching at St. Olaf as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion.
“I learned a lot about how the Bible [is] used by politicians, ”Figueroa-Ray said of his time in St. Olaf. “The Scriptures are therefore coming out a lot in the public sphere. And I’m really interested in watching, like, the meaning behind it. “
She also focused on multicultural ministry and taught a course called Religion on the US-Mexico Border, which included students learning who lives in Northfield, building relationships, and working with a local priest.
In class, “the students actually had to walk twenty minutes to get to the Catholic church where there was a Spanish mass, and even if they didn’t speak Spanish….
Students in this class also had the chance to participate in “Hostile Terrain 94”, a community art project organized by the Undocumented Migration Project.
According to their website, “the exhibit is made up of more than 3,200 handwritten toe tags that depict migrants who died attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert in Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. These tags are geotagged at a desert wall map showing the exact locations where the remains were found.
Figueroa-Ray explained how this project started in the classroom and then got them to reach out to other students. She added that Hamline’s Spirituality Scholars will also be involved in the art project.
“I hope the Hamline students go over there and help with the setup and be a part of that kind of creation, and then we go up the wall here in April,” she said.
Part of Figueroa-Ray’s work at the Wesley Center will be in events and programming overseeing Spirituality Scholars, Catalyst Voyages, and the annual Mahle Lecture Series.
However, Figueroa-Ray does not limit his work to Hamline at the Wesley Center.
“This job offered a hybrid-type position where I could continue to do things that fascinate me in academia, but also do what excites me with community organizing and project management,” she said. .
She will be in the Hamline community, serving on various task forces and committees, chairing college events such as summons, and advising a campus knitting club.
Although former Chaplain Victorin-Vangerud will be sadly missed by Hamline, the community looks forward to his future with Figueroa-Ray.