Church on Campus
The new protestant university chaplain in Garching
TUMstudinews: You have been the university chaplain on the TUM Garching campus for three months now. How was your start?
Katarina Freisleder: I am especially pleased that so many people contacted me of their own accord. A group of students asked me if they could use our room for prayer, conversation and singing. The interest was there right from the beginning. There is now a small prayer group that meets regularly. We are trying to agree on a fixed day once a week. I am delighted that there is a requirement for prayers.
TUMstudinews: What is special for you at the Garching campus?
Katarina Freisleder: I see two challenges. At the moment, the Garching campus is only used in connection with studies. The students spend their leisure time and their evenings out elsewhere – the campus becomes deserted. I am trying to find out the times when students are around and have a bit of free time that is not scheduled. Secondly, we are not exactly "visible". We are looking forward to having a central chapel and a cross – a building to be used ecumenically, visible for everybody. It's not only the students and the staff who visit the campus – there are also many international guests. We would like to offer them a venue too.
TUMstudinews: What does a university chaplain do exactly?
Katarina Freisleder: The Bavarian Lutheran college community and the Protestant student community worded this very well in their profile: We are there for the people who study, teach and work at universities – and we take part in university life. We take time, offer pastoral care and support and we assist people in search of orientation. We create spaces for people to get together and talk. And we provide a home for fellowship and practiced faith.
TUMstudinews: You already worked in the area of palliative care at a hospital, in nursing home pastoral care and as a parish priest in Krailling, Planegg and Graefelfing for four years. What attracted you to the TUM?
Katarina Freisleder: Working with young people, mainly. At the Waldkirche in Planegg, I was responsible for youth work. I also find the transitions between theology, ethics and science very interesting. Most young people who study here are confronted by these questions – and we approach this topic in our lecture series on Technology and Ethics. I see it as one of my duties to provide orientation.
TUMstudinews: Orientation is crucial for a student’s phase of life.
Katarina Freisleder: Studying is also a phase of decision-making – it is a very important stage of life. Young people are under enormous pressure to perform well. At the same time, I have noticed a high level of openness. They ask a lot of questions. I am available for dialogue, I’m there for everyone. Direct communication is very important to me – and of course, I am subject to confidentiality just as any other priest.
TUMstudinews: What do you wish for the future at the TUM?
Katarina Freisleder: One great wish would be a visible chapel on our campus. Just like the ones at airports, it should be open to everyone – for locals and guests alike. And I would like to meet as many people as possible. I would like to assure the people – in their minds and their hearts – that somebody is always there for them. We would like to provide a temporary home for our students.
The EHG offers counseling, pastoral care, prayer groups, devotion, church service and many other events for students, lecturers and employees of the TUM.
Katarina Freisleder is 37 years old and originally comes from Leipzig. After spending some time in Scotland, she studied Protestant Theology in Erlangen, Munich and Makumira, Tanzania. She has been a pastor since 2006. She has three children and has recently moved to Garching with her family.
Department of Mechanical Engineering (Room MW0016),
phone: (089) 289-1660 4 or (089) 88983904,