By Connie Su
It is very difficult to conclude Mary Hudson's life in one article, for it is so dramatic. Any one aspect of her life can become a riveting story.
In her fifties, Hudson is a genial and sapient person with a good sense of humor. She has been the Pagan chaplain of Syracuse University since 2010, and also the first Pagan chaplain in Hendricks Chapel. An umbrella term, paganism describes a multitude of faiths systems, many that are polytheistic that honor both the feminine and masculine aspect of the divine. It also quite often carries an understanding that we see ourselves as part of the nature, not separate from nature. Talking of her work, Hudson says: "I'm here because everybody deserves to have a place to go, to have a feeling of being included, and to learn from each other."
Different from other chaplaincies in Hendricks Chapel, Pagan chaplain is a fairly open and diversified discussion group. No two members in the group are totally alike. Among them, there is someone who believes in Celtic traditions, Russian Shamanism, Druidism and natural gods; there are also students who are atheists and those who came here completely out of curiosity. Yet in this highly diverse group, dispute is rare. That's because all of the discussions are based on one universal rule: respect to other minds.
"Some students feel confused about what faith they belong to, so they come here to find their answers," says Hudson. "There are also 'seekers' who are curious about other faiths. They came, talked with others, and finally developed their own faiths. We welcome everyone, and we respect every thought."
Hudson became the adviser to the SU student group Student Pagan Information, Relations and Learning (SPIRAL) in 2002. She gives counsel and advice regarding various believes and traditions to students, faculty and community members, and leads the discussion in the group. It was also then when she made this life-changing decision: quit her previous job as the director of Information Technology Services at Syracuse University, a place where she stayed for 12 years. Actually, she had already been in IT professions for 25 years.
When asked the reason why she gave up such a good-paying job she had for so many years and began a brand new journey, Hudson gave a very simple answer: "I wanted to pursue a different path in life."
"Change is not a bad thing," she says, "I believe that in this world there is enough for everybody, and no one needs to get scared of difference. I'm very satisfied with what I have in my hands." Both she and her husband are pagan in their whole lives, and her husband is always very supportive of every decision she makes. Hudson said that she likes being with students and teaching, which are the most enjoyable part of her work at Hendricks.
"Hendricks Chapel is an amazing place," says Hudson. "When it was built it has no religion or symbolism. It embraces all faiths in an equal manner, seeking justice and truth, serving as an open forum to people who don't believe they have a voice."
Hudson earned a bachelor's degree in Women Study and Sociology from SU in 2007. Now she owns a small store and a 56-acres farm with her family near Oswego, where she enjoys the rest of the week when she doesn't go to work. She likes to embrace new elements in her life and live life to the fullest. Hudson is also a fabulous writer. She is writing for her blog and preparing to have some books published in the near future.
"I write about everything I'm interested in," she smiles. "One of the books I'm writing now is about Tarot."