“Being” rather than “doing” was widely agreed as the most important part of a School Chaplaincy Team member’s role during a recent recollection.
Fourteen such members, comprising three nuns and 11 laypeople, attended a year-end recollection and gathering at St Joseph’s Institution Junior school on Nov 1.
The event, organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS) was to allow School Chaplaincy Teams to share their experiences after attending training earlier this year.
Many of the participants, from both primary and secondary Catholic schools, had attended either the basic or advanced chaplaincy training programme.
During the sharing session, participants shared the challenges they face in finding space in the school timetable to hold religious activities for Catholic students.
However, participants agreed that a School Chaplaincy Team member’s role, more than that of a religious education teacher or a provider of doctrinal instruction, is to lend a listening ear.
The team member has to be an approachable and loving presence that mirrors the love of God for all, participants noted.
Fr Edward Seah shared his experience providing pastoral care to students during his years as a De la Salle Brother.
He also stressed the role of chaplaincy teams in supporting the religious education coordinator as well as other members of the school.
“If your relationship with the children is positive, they will look for you,” said Fr Seah.
During the recollection, participants also had to learn the “Stella Mass” for young people, composed by the renowned Church musician Christopher Walker, who has granted ACCS permission to use it in all Catholic schools here.
Participants said they enjoyed the recollection’s supportive atmosphere.
“We can’t work alone as chaplains or in any ministry: everyone has a gift and we pull them together to build the Kingdom,” said Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Sr Nora Gomez, who is part of a three-member chaplaincy team at Hai Sing Catholic School.
Chaplaincy teams support leaders of Catholic schools in their ongoing efforts to nurture the Catholic ethos in their institutions. They provide a ministry of presence and accompaniment to the school community, help Catholic students deepen their faith through prayer and formation.
By Stefania Hartley