Student chaplains. Everyone has seen them. Some have been them. However, many people are unaware of what it takes to become a thriving student chaplain.
It all begins with a desire to serve. “It seems students are interested in helping other students with spiritual formation,” said Joe Modica, Chaplain of Eastern University.
In addition, chaplains participate in a two-phased training session each summer. This year the process began August 21 for the leadership team, which is composed of second- and third-year student chaplains (generally juniors and seniors). During phase one of training, the students took a one day retreat to Daylesford Abbey in Paoli. There they discussed authenticity aided by the book The Gift of Being Yourself, written by David Benner.
Phase two began August 24 and was for all first-time student chaplains. During training, they focused on the theme scripture of this year, Psalm 111:10.
Throughout the three days of training, students broke down scripture and looked at leadership issues. They also learned from Julie Morgan how to lead a Grow Group through interpersonal communication. A new addition to the training this year was a time of fellowship with the RAs.
Student chaplain training is “a combination of team building, training and spiritual disciplines,” said Joe Modica.
Actual training may be over in August, but that doesn’t end the guidance for first-time student chaplains.
“You don’t just deploy all of these chaplains and then never see them again,” Modica said.
Each chaplain is placed into a small group with other first-time student chaplains and a second or third year chaplain who acts as a mentor. The groups meet once a week. Also, each student chaplain is required to take the two-credit chaplain practicum.
Modica outlined three main characteristics he looks for in a student wishing to join the student chaplain program: evidence of a strong relationship with Christ, openness to new ideas and constructive criticism and a good sense of humor.
“I sit back at the end of the day and say, ‘what a privilege to work with them,'” Modica said. “We work hard, pray hard, play hard.”