Magazine article Anglican Journal

Campus Chaplains Often Lack 'Peer Support'

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Campus Chaplains Often Lack 'Peer Support'

Article excerpt

Anglican university chaplains play a vital role helping young adults adjust to the strains of navigating higher education. But many face unique struggles, without resources found in traditional parish posts.

Most chaplains are asked to serve as counsellors or wellness advisors, sometimes for students who are not Anglicans or Christians. They often lack the peer support other priests have. Even the most remote priests get a chance to talk to other ministers at clergy meetings, but most dioceses (Huron being an exception) have only one university chaplain position.

Their ministry can also be precarious, and chaplains are often called on to justify their work, or to help raise funds to cover the cost.

"It's quite different [from parish ministry]...it's also a very stressful situation," the Rev. Eileen Scully, director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry for the Anglican Church of Canada, said in an interview. "They don't have a national association or a regular chance to be with their own peers... [but] they are front-line workers."

At a conference held June 5-8 at Renison University College in Waterloo, Ont., eight chaplains from Canadian schools met to talk about the challenges they face and how they might support each other.

Present were Canon Megan Collings-Moore, of Renison University College; the Rev. Gary Thorne, of the University of King's College; the Rev. Jean-Daniel Williams, of McGill University; the Rev. Andrea Budgey, of Trinity College at the University of Toronto; the Rev. Chris Kelly, of Huron College; the Rev. Hilton Gomes, of Canterbury College at the University of Windsor; the Rev. Lisa Chisholm-Smith, of Queen's University; and Ruth Dantzer, of the University of Victoria.

Ryan Weston, the national church's lead animator of public witness for social and ecological justice, also attended the gathering to see where he and the chaplains might share overlapping concerns.

Discussions centred on creating a formal network for university chaplains, improving ministry and considering strategies to deal with "huge, rising rates of serious mental health issues on campus," said Collings-Moore.

The chaplains also think they could provide an important link between the national church and a demographic it sometimes has trouble connecting with: young adults. …

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