A Look Into the Ministry of Katie Palumbo

May 12, 2016 | Zachary White

Dorm elevators are not typically seen as ideal locales for ministry. However, for the Walla Walla University assistant chaplain intern, the Foreman Hall elevator is one of many locations where the love of God can be shared.

Katie Palumbo graduated from WWU in 2015 with a major in religion and a minor in psychology. She is the first to fill the new assistant chaplain intern position.

“The position is designed to give me, or whoever occupies it, a well-rounded experience in all aspects of ministry,” Palumbo says. “My week typically reflects that — a mix between working closely with campus ministries leaders, the chaplain’s office in general, the girls' dorms, student missions and the University Church.”

Palumbo also mentors freshmen, oversees small group and prayer ministries, leads her own small group for women, makes time to pray and connect with staff and faculty, and coordinates Breaking Bread, a program designed to connect students and church members for food and fellowship.

“If I’ve been able to make a person smile, give someone hope or meet a need, that’s a good day,” Palumbo says. One of the ways she does this is by getting out into the thick of the student body. Once a week, Palumbo and women’s dorm chaplain Shintell Izquierdo ride the Foreman Hall elevator and wander Conard Hall. An emphasis of Palumbo’s ministry on campus is to reach out “more intentionally to the women of WWU.”

Once a week, Palumbo teams up with Paddy McCoy, campus chaplain, and Tommy Poole, chaplain for missions and discipleship, as “mobile chaplains.” “We try and hit one highly trafficked area two hours a week to talk to students, hand out candy and baked goods, and pray,” Palumbo explains.

“I had always ruled out being a pastor or a chaplain,” Palumbo says. “What changed my mind was serving as a student missionary in Kenya during my junior year, where I worked as an elementary teacher. After spending a year at a first- through 12th-grade school, I realized that I loved working with people on an individual basis and ministering in a campus setting. It’s a total God thing that I’m where I am today.”

When Palumbo returned from Kenya, she changed her major and began working for the chaplain’s office and the student association spiritual team. “I fell in love with the theology department, the content of my classes and the professors who fully supported me as a woman in ministry,” Palumbo says.

“I’m learning to dream and think big picture, see past immediate challenges, and envision possibilities,” says Palumbo. “I think I’m learning that learning is okay. Lucky for me, I get to learn here.”

Zachary White, WWU university relations student writer