Updated: Dec 27, 2020
Rev. Kaitlyn Mascher-Mace is a Minister’s Assistant at the Tri-State/Denver
Buddhist Temple (TS/DBT) who wants to become a Kaikyoshi minister
But she’s much more — repeat that, much, much, much more — than just
a devout follower and practitioner of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. And she
takes on life and living head-on — with her own characteristic high energy
level, commitment, thoroughness and passion.
The Institute of Buddhist Studies student is a full-time paramedic working
two 24-hour shifts, serving part of one of Colorado’s largest counties, Weld
County (about twice the size of the state of Delaware). And the paramedic
job takes her on occasion to Wyoming.
Before she became a full-time paramedic, Rev. Mascher-Mace worked in
oil fields around the world in production enhancement — aka fracking.
During the 12 years in that field, she served as vice president and as
managing director for companies, and has published papers and several
And she’s an avid athlete, too, as a member of team USA in 2014-15 for
the Australian Rules Football and played in the World Championship in
2014 in Australia.
“I think I keep myself so busy as I just really do not like to sit around,” she
said of her peripatetic resume. “As my wife tells me, there’s a very short
amount of time and a lot to do, so let’s do it.”
Rev. Mascher-Mace grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she
attended a Catholic junior high and high school. She would attend Mass
during the week and a Lutheran church on Sundays. She credited the
Christian Brothers at the school with sparking her interest in religion, but
she found “their belief system never really made sense to me.” She recalled, with crystal clarity, the exact days — Aug. 9-10, 2005 — when she became interested in Buddhism.
The place was Motsuji Temple, a Tendai Buddhist temple, in the small town
of Hiraizumi (approximate population of 7,500) in Iwate prefecture. (The
temple has since been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in
2011.) She ended up there during a two-week trip to Japan as a college
student who was studying mechanical engineering and Japanese language
at the Colorado School of Mines. There was nowhere else to stay for
visitors in Hiraizumi other than the temple, so she spent the night there. In
the morning, she participated in the service with the priests at the temple.
“I can tell you the exact moment that I felt like something changed was
lighting a bundle of incense and staring at the Hondo of that temple,” Rev.
Mascher-Mace recalled. “The brazier for the incense is outside, under a
small roof, and the smell of the sandalwood and that exact moment still
makes me feel something inside … it’s moving.”
Later, she learned that her maternal grandmother, whom she was close to
and who helped to raise her along with her late grandfather, had passed
away in the United States — on the same day she was at the temple.
“I think it was a realization that life was finite,” she said. “I had lost one of
my main anchors, and I think it was something that is ineffable, more than I
actually understand. I know that sounds superstitious, but it’s been a
motivator for me.” She also witnessed the complete dedication from the priests during the
“The fact that they got up every morning to chant the sutras, that they
welcomed strangers into their temple, and that they wanted to share the
teaching of the Buddha with all that came into the temple,” she said. “That I
was not turned away for being different from them, and instead there was