St. John’s Lutheran Community welcomes new chaplain with ties to Albert Lea

Published 5:00 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

St. John’s Lutheran Community in late April hired a new chaplain to their staff. This chaplain is the Rev. Michael Mandsager.

He has been with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for 32 years. He worked as a pastor at traditional church parishes throughout southeastern Minnesota for many years but transitioned to a career as a chaplain three years ago.

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“I’m still kind of getting acclimated, getting comfortable and getting to know people,” Mandsager said.

Currently a resident of Northfield, Mandsager said prior to pursuing the job at St. John’s, he had never been to Albert Lea. He was still familiar with the community, however, because his father’s cousin, Rev. Monrad Mandsager, had worked as St. John’s chaplain for 14 years in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Monrad passed away in 2018, but some of St. John’s residents still remember the impact he had on their lives.

“He made a big impression here. [He was] very well-beloved and well remembered,” Mandsager said of his relative.

Mandsager was not sure what to expect when he came to Albert Lea, but he found a beautiful town with a welcoming community.

“I didn’t realize what a beautiful town Albert Lea is,” he said. “I’m enjoying being here. It’s a great community … [I’m] looking forward to getting to know everybody better.”

Life as a chaplain can get very busy. Mandsager conducts two Sunday church services, a midweek service and holds Bible studies throughout the week. He also meets individually with residents of St. John’s as needed. This includes the residents at both the Fountain Lake campus and the Luther Place campus.

“I love hanging out with people and visiting,” Mandsager said. “Our residents here are great and have such a wealth of knowledge and experience.”

Mandsager also said one benefit to being a chaplain is that the business side of running the facility can be managed by another staff member.

“I get to do all the things that, you know, pastors love doing, that we went to seminary for — worship and teaching and pastoral care and Bible study,” Mandsager said. “I get to focus on working and teaching and spiritual care, and we’ve got a great team of people who take care of the business side of things.”

Director of marketing and public relations Kathy Woodside said everyone enjoys Mandsager at St. John’s.

“He knows a lot of local pastors and fits in perfectly here,” she said.

In his spare time, Mandsager enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, keeping up with local sports and spending time with his family, which includes his wife, four children and one granddaughter.

He is excited to see what opportunities in Albert Lea and at St. John’s lie ahead for him.