It goes without saying that the past 2 years have been especially challenging for Tertiary education and universities and TAFE colleges. Nevertheless, ministry and pastoral care still occurred on and off campus during that time with Tertiary chaplains of all faiths and denominations finding creative and meaningful ways to maintain their connections to students – through the challenges of isolation and on-line learning. An interesting podcast on the role of tertiary chaplains in Australia, especially through the pandemic years, is available via the following link: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/godforbid/university-chaplaincy-in-a-changing-world/13790532 . This podcast gives a wonderful insight into the ministry with tertiary students and staff and what current chaplains believe to be their most important responsibilities and challenges, along with the great rewards in their ministry.
I have been privileged to continue to represent our Lutheran church on the CCTI (Council for Chaplaincy on Tertiary Institutions) in Victoria during this time, and to hear and listen to the challenges and issues that chaplains have been experiencing during the pandemic. I continue to give thanks for those who have given their time and energies to maintaining the connections that have been even more necessary during a time of isolation for many students and staff. One of the main purposes of CCTI is to accredit and professionally support chaplains on all campuses in Victoria. With the return of students to campuses again this year, CCTI had multiple applications for new chaplains to be accredited and it was exciting to be part of interviews with prospective chaplains of different faiths and hear their enthusiasm for sharing faith and passion for journeying with tertiary students through a most significant and important time in their lives. While there is some disappointment that we don’t currently have any Lutheran chaplains on campuses here in Victoria, it was nevertheless gratifying to know that our District continues to support work of chaplains on campuses through allowing me to remain a presence on the CCTI. The relationships that I am able to maintain with many of my previous chaplaincy colleagues enables a small ‘Lutheran’ connection, with the hope that we again in the future will be able to encourage members in our church who may have the time to spend on campus, to take up the call to this ministry.
(Judy is an accredited lay worker and member at Our Saviours Lutheran Church Knox)