Trent University Announces New Spiritual Affairs Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chaplain enhances student services at Trent with support from local churches
Tuesday, September 28, 2004, Peterborough
Trent University in partnership with community churches representing four denominations is pleased to announce the new role of spiritual affairs co-ordinator to complement and enhance existing student services.
David French, a graduate of Trent University who first set foot on the campus as a student in 1980, has been selected for this new role. Mr. French holds two master's degrees, including a Master's of Divinity from the University of Toronto. After the completion of that degree, he was commissioned as a chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces. For the last five years, he has been the assistant at Peterborough's All-Saints Anglican Church, a Trent University college don and a senior tutor. Mr. French is also the coach of the varsity fencing team - a position he has held for 20 years.
In this new role, funded by Presbyterian, United, Anglican and Baptist churches, Mr. French will work closely with Trent's Student Affairs team, the University's Spiritual Affairs Committee comprised of students, and local church communities. There will be a counselling component to this new role, and Mr. French will also liaise with local church representatives and help students connect with religious communities in town. He will also be responsible for programming and has plans for a calendar that will comprehensively list religious services and events at Trent.
Mr. French says his ecumenical and interfaith experience as a military chaplain prepared him for this new role, in which he will be working with students from many faith groups. As spiritual affairs co-ordinator, the ability to be tolerant and non-judgmental is essential, he says.
"Accept, accept, accept - this is the heart and soul of a chaplain. If you want to be around people who are like-minded, this is not the thing for you," says Mr. French.
Senior Director of Student Affairs and Community Partnerships Meri Kim Oliver says the Spiritual Affairs Coordinator position fills a gap that became particularly visible after 9-11.
"Some students were looking for a place to ask questions related to the incident and their response to it. The traditional options of counselling and health services weren't a fit for the process," she said. "Finding meaning in life, whether it is in context of a major incident like 9-11 or in processing day-to-day situations, is a natural developmental process. The spiritual affairs coordinator role will be able to provide additional opportunities to explore personal development and to offer support to the campus when specific questions or needs arise."
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