Dawn Kim, Contributing Photographer

Two months after assuming the associate deanship at Marquand Chapel, Awet Andemicael DIV ’10 is settling into her new role.

Andemicael was appointed as associate dean in June 2020 but delayed her five-year term to finish her studies. She is responsible for directing the program of worship in Marquand Chapel — the Yale Divinity School’s main place of worship — and teaching one course per term. Additionally, she will “craft a vision” for Marquand Chapel and oversee its implementation through worship services that take place daily from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Andemicael will be working closely with Liturgical Minister and Chapel Communications Manager Michael Libunao-Macalintal and Director of Chapel Music Nathaniel Gumbs. 

“We are thrilled to announce a leader for Marquand Chapel who has so successfully integrated her theological and musical skills for the sake of communities of prayer,” Dean of Yale Divinity School Gregory Sterling said in his June 2020 announcement.

Andemicael was supposed to start last fall, but was given an extension to work on her doctoral dissertation on St. Irenaeus of Lyon’s “social and political thought as a resource for contemporary Christian theology.” She is currently working full-time in her new role while completing her dissertation. 

Andemicael has already had to work through obstacles during her first two months. According to her, planning and implementing in-person worship is hard given COVID-19 safety guidelines. Only a small group of singers are permitted to sing during congregations — and such performances must take place outdoors. 

“It’s been very hard on us, because that’s a big way, historically for the chapel, in how we worship. How people have a sense of community is by singing,” Andemicael said. “One of my goals is to find a way to build community, despite the fact that we can’t do that.”

She said that her experience as a student at the Yale Divinity School has helped equip her with a “unique empathy” for students. Andemicael noted that her personal experience as a student informs how she leads, preaches and ministers to her current students.

For the first time in recent memory, all of the Marquand staff members are graduates of the Divinity School or the Institute of Sacred Music. Andemicael said she sees the value in this –– noting that all of the staff members were shaped, to some extent, by past traditions of the chapel. 

Andemicael also noted that transitioning to in-person learning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity to “rethink things” on a more structural level.

“One of the things that I’m hoping to do is genuinely examine where we are now, how we got here and rethink where we’re going as a chapel as a community,” Andemicael said. 

Along with the Chapel team, Andemicael is starting to work on the Marquand History Project to celebrate the Divinity School’s bicentennial. The plan is to collect, generate and curate materials on the history and legacy of Marquand Chapel, according to Andemicael.

Libunao-Macalintal, who works closely with Andemiceal, believes that Andemicael’s energy aligns with the current reopening of Marquand Chapel. 

“Working with Dean Andemicael is fantastic,” Libunao-Macalintal wrote in an email to the News. “She brings a joy and pastoral presence in the space that really is fitting for the renewal of Marquand Chapel and the role that it plays in the YDS community.” 

Like Andemiceal, Libunao-Macalintal hopes that Marquand Chapel can help reimagine a new sense of community at Yale Divinity School. According to Libunao-Macalintal, the chapel serves as a way to step back from the daily classes and meetings, and provides a place for the community to come together as one to worship. 

“It is a space that aims to be transformative, healing, consoling, and challenging all at once,” Libunao-Macalintal wrote in an email to the News. “As we are looking to develop future faith leaders and academics, it is important that we have a space to be with one another, and remember the things that keep us rooted in our work.”

The Yale Divinity School was established in 1822. 

Alex used to cover all things the Divinity School. Now, she serves as Weekend Editor. She's a junior in Trumbull majoring in English.