A Shell and a Stone: Pacific Chaplaincy Practice at Western Sydney University
Universities typically host a broad range of students from many different backgrounds and cultural groups. Each of these groups brings with them their own stories, ways of knowing and sensing the world, and experiences that impact upon their relationship with educational institutions as learning and social spaces. Often, students from minority backgrounds face mental, emotional and physical challenges associated with university study alongside the reality of living in two worlds – the first of their heritage cultures, and the other of the university as a Western learning institution. This article explores the experiences of the author, an associate chaplain at Western Sydney University, and the establishment of a monthly event called ‘Fellowship Over Food’. This is a night for Pacific students enrolled at the University based around spirituality, building social networks and, of course, food. It explores chaplaincy through Heshusius’ (1994) notion of a participatory mode of consciousness, alongside the experience of Flinders university chaplain Geoff Boyce (2010), which highlights the role of multifaith chaplaincy within university contexts framed as hospitality to strangers. This article uses the author’s reflections on the first ‘Fellowship Over Food’ night, which took place in August 2017, to consider how a non-Pacific chaplain can engage meaningfully in this cross-cultural space. This night demonstrated the socio-spiritual connections and affirmation that can take place through such practice, and its importance for Pacific students in a university setting.
Subjectschaplaincy as hospitality
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