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About the Center


Center for Religious & Spiritual Life

Helen Hills Hills Chapel
123-125 Elm Street
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Our Staff

Phone: 413-585-2750
Fax: 413-585-2794

We are open daily to the Smith community from 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. for prayer, reflection, conversation, meditation, study and worship.

Helen Hills Hills Chapel

The Smith Center for Religious & Spiritual Life is a unique setting for student engagement. You'll find holiday and holy day celebrations, a cappella concerts, religious text study, intriguing discussions and fresh-baked cookies—sometimes happening all at the same time.

We tailor the programs and activities we offer each semester to students' questions, concerns and ideas. Some of our popular programs include Soup, Salad & Soul; Mindful Mondays; Jummah prayer & lunch; weekly meditation; and annual Interfaith Sundae event.

We meet with students at the chapel, and also in student houses, dining rooms, the Campus Center, and for walks along the pond. Drop by the chapel anytime to visit, hang out or study. Our staff are also available to meet with students by appointment. We want all Smith students to feel there is a place for them here. We work to ensure that you have what you need to thrive here—whether it is food that meets your dietary requirements, listening hearts, religious community to worship or celebrate with, or a companion on your spiritual journey.

Spiritual Guidance

Among the many things the Center for Religious and Spiritual life offers is a space just to talk to someone.

The Smith years are ones of growth and change. The four years you spend here as a student allow for new experiences, new directions, and new challenges. It is often a time of questioning. We offer many events and gatherings to foster learning and dialogue. These programs may combine prayer, reflection, discussion and self-discovery, giving students encouragement for a lifetime of spiritual development. Spiritual guidance differs from psychological counseling in that there is no plan, no goal, no one even takes notes. We are just here to chat and we would love to have you visit.

Rev. Matilda Cantwell and Rabbi Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser are trained in giving interfaith guidance and are available to meet with students for a heart-to-heart chat when needed. Spiritual guidance encompasses everything from the deep questions of life, to loving support for a person in times of stress or trouble. It is not based in any particular religious viewpoint.

Some reasons to come to the chapel and talk include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and just need a friendly face and someone with an open heart who will listen
  • Looking for general guidance, direction, and an "ear" to help you discern your own truth;
  • Needing a "fresh eye" to help in a given situation

We also offer hospital visits, one-on-one guidance, spiritual direction and pastoral counseling and make referrals as appropriate. All of our services are confidential and are offered to persons of any belief, faith or mixed faith background. We aim to support all seekers in the Smith community.

CRSL Funding

Funds might be available for student personal needs, travel for conferences, retreats or special programs related to religion, as well as ethics or community or public service. For conference funding, use the Universal Conference Fund Application. For non-conference funding or to get more information, please contact Maureen Raucher.

We recommend you submit your application as soon as you determine that you might be in need of chapel funding. Sufficient time must be given to review your application and determine the amount of funds to be awarded, prior to your event. 

Plan a Vigil

We're here to help you plan a vigil. Students who would like to plan a vigil should fill out request form and send an email to Matilda Cantwell to give us an idea of what kind of support you need.


Vigil Planning Form >


Community Participation

The Center for Religious & Spiritual Life values community collaboration and welcomes participation from community members and organizations. In order to achieve a harmonious working relationship, the center has established protocols to guide interactions with staff and offer important information on the programming process.

  • CRSL develops its programming schedule one or two semesters prior to implementation. Community organizations and individuals who want to collaborate with CRSL on programs, activities and events should submit a proposal in writing for consideration.
  • The proposal must be approved by the director of Religious and Spiritual Life and fit into the center’s goals and objectives for the year as well as the center’s mission.
  • In some cases the proposal will be brought before the Student Advisory Board for input and feedback prior to a final decision.
  • Proposals should be submitted preferably the semester before the intended date but at least four to six weeks prior for proper consideration.
  • Proposals should include date, time, program description, budget, resources and requested support.
  • Collaborators are expected to assist in marketing efforts (e.g. creating flyers, posters and press releases). The center will use its normal college channels for on campus promotion and when warranted, marketing to the community.
  • The center makes space reservations for programs in accordance with Smith College's Office of Events Management procedures and guidelines, which can take up to two weeks for approvals.
  • Priority consideration is given to proposal ideas which align most closely to center goals.
  • Community partners are expected to adhere to CRSL established deadlines.
  • CRSL does not release student names and emails to outside groups as a rule to protect student privacy. However, the center can send communication to students using its internal database, as appropriate.
  • All marketing flyers and posters must be approved by CRSL before distribution on campus and should include CRSL, Smith College, and access logos.

Rituals and Transitions:Spring at the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life

Matilda Cantwell
June 5, 2017
Our website highlights several recent perspectives on the season and how the holidays in different religious traditions incorporate spring. I have always found it to be so profound how the religious traditions; celebrating their own stories and events; are so … Continue reading →

Collaborations Shape CRSL’s Spring Semester

Kim Alston
June 1, 2017
The spring semester was a whirlwind of spirited activity. Many collaborative ventures stretched our intellect, consciousness, and empathy, including the Engaging Identity series with the Wellness Education Office; The Refugee Resettlement Project with the Jandon Center for Community Engagement; the … Continue reading →

New Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and College Chaplain

Guest Author
May 31, 2017
Julianne D. Ohotnicky, Associate Dean of the College / Dean of Students The Reverend Matilda Rose Cantwell has assumed the position of Director of Religious & Spiritual Life and College Chaplain at Smith College. She served as the interim director at … Continue reading →

The Glowing Influence of the Spring Equinox

Emmett Wald
May 14, 2017
The spring equinox, which fell on March 20 this year, is considered the first day of spring, and is recognized as a holiday across many religions and cultures. The spring and fall equinoxes mark important moments in our orbit of … Continue reading →

A Bright Future for SCJC

Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser
May 14, 2017
Jewish student life at Smith is in a phase of growth and vibrancy. In the two years since the group officially changed its name from Smith Hillel to the Smith College Jewish Community (SCJC), the organization has grown exponentially. Shabbat … Continue reading →

A Smith Haggadah

Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser
April 26, 2017
On the evening of Monday, April 10, the Sanctuary in Helen Hills Chapel was filled with 72 singing, laughing, and reflecting students. The Smith College Jewish Community (SCJC) hosted a Passover Seder. It was the largest, happiest, most energetic ever. … Continue reading →

Spring’s Promise:A Witch’s Perspective

Guest Author
April 26, 2017
by Arianna Alexsandra Collins, Wiccan High Priestess and Program Coordinator in the Jandon Center Spring is the promise of release; of cleansing; of birth waters bearing down on the valley, washing winter into the Atlantic, heralding new life and new beginnings. … Continue reading →

Smith ServeUp 2017 Update

Chapel Student
April 10, 2017
by Daisy Paez ’18 and Dayana Bulchand ’18 Nineteen Smith students along with about 65 from the Five Colleges, journeyed down to New Orleans this Spring Break with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to spend a week serving the city and discussing … Continue reading →

My Islam:An Exploration of Identity

Chapel Student
March 30, 2017
“My Islam 2017: An Exploration of Identity” was an open mic event for Muslim students and students racialized as Muslim. The program served to highlight the diverse experiences of Muslims and center those whose voices that are usually left unheard, … Continue reading →

Sacred Space and Beloved Community

Matilda Cantwell
March 5, 2017
The Yoga aphorisms of Patanjali from the third century state “what we truly worship we make sacred.” This philosophy rings very true for me. I believe it applies to “worship” in the broadest sense: quiet, alert walks in the woods; … Continue reading →