By the Reverend Krista Hilton
“We have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1: 9b-10
Chaplaincy at university provides spiritual and pastoral care to students and staff via a ministry of presence, outreach, and faith exploration. I am happy to introduce myself as the new ecumenical chaplain at Brock University in St. Catharines, and I’m looking forward to welcoming the students to campus in the fall.
I came to campus ministry via a circuitous route… I first experienced a call to chaplaincy when I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph in 1995. However, once I began my Master of Divinity degree at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, my focus shifted to parish ministry. I served in parishes in the Diocese of Nova Scotia & PEI for ten years, after which I resigned from parish ministry and focussed instead on training in spiritual direction, vocational discernment, and pastoral counselling.
My husband and I subsequently moved to the Diocese of Niagara and we began our family; looking after our two girls occupied my time in the following years. After three years of living in St. Catharines, I saw a job advertisement in the Niagara Anglican for a part time chaplain (sponsored by Anglican, Presbyterian, and United Church of Canada) at Brock University. Suddenly, the vocation from all those years ago was reborn! After prayerful discernment, I submitted my application and was then excited to be offered the position.
I now have the privilege of walking with university students as they discern the pathways for their future and learn to listen to how God is guiding them. Entering university is both an exciting and scary time for many of them. It is often a time of budding independence, exploring new ideas and ways of being in the world. This can be challenging, confusing, and mind-broadening all at the same time. A university chaplain provides a ministry of presence: a person who will walk alongside and provide a safe space for wrestling with new concepts, light bulb moments, and even discovering new identities.
As students across the diocese attend a campus for the first time, or return to campus, I encourage students to reach out to the campus chaplain as a resource for support, encouragement, and spiritual guidance. And I welcome the prayers of the diocese for all campus ministries, that they may be a place of welcome and acceptance for everyone.
Brock Ecumenical Chaplaincy is one of three university chaplaincies supported by the diocese, the others being situated at McMaster University and the University of Guelph. Krista can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.