Denver MA Juggles the Nembutsu with Paramedic Job

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

someday.


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

patents.


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

service.


“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