The beginning of this school year will mark a transition for religious life at Bowdoin. In July, Macauley Lord ’77 finalized a $1 million donation to the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, renaming it to honor his late mother, Rachel Lord.
Lord’s experience as a Bowdoin student played a significant role in his decision to donate to the Center. He recalled an absence of religious resources at Bowdoin while he explored his spirituality as a student, as well as a campus culture that created hardships for groups such as Jewish students.
“Bowdoin had no chaplain then and students were left to find a church or synagogue on their own,” Lord wrote in an email to the Orient.
After establishing himself as a fly-fishing instructor and author, Lord began training to become a volunteer hospital chaplain. He later entered the Bangor Theological Seminary. Today, Lord works with the inmate population at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.
“Visiting as a volunteer with inmates of many faiths and cultures is an enormous privilege. You’d be surprised by how much holiness you find in a jail,” Lord remarked.
Lord was ultimately motivated to reach out to Bowdoin after the passing of his mother, a woman he described as “unfailingly kind and warm to everyone she met.” As she persevered through profound mental illness, Lord drew inspiration from his mother’s spiritual strength.
Lord worked alongside Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Eduardo Pazos, former Dean for Student Affairs, Tim Foster, and the Development Office to implement the endowment. His donation enabled Pazos to take on a full-time role at Bowdoin.
“One of the biggest things that the endowment does for us is it gives us a full-time director of religious and spiritual life, which is fantastic. That comes with me having more opportunity to work on programs and plan programs and that kind of stuff throughout the summer,” Pazos explained.
Pazos was able to expand the Multifaith Fellows program from four to five students this year and guarantee its continued existence. He also aims to increase the Center’s outreach and eventually hire part-time advisors for Muslim students and members of other underrepresented religious groups on campus.
On a larger scale, he hopes to expand opportunities for students by instituting partially or fully-funded service trips.
“We would love to focus some time or some resources to helping students understand conflict resolution and dialogue, specifically across religious divisions and divides nationally and internationally,” Pazos said.
Lord is certain his mother would embrace the new spiritual endeavors of the Center.
“She would want to meet every student who comes into the space that is now named for her,” he said.