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Dr. Modica searches for next generation of student leaders

Amidst the flood of midterms and homework, an opportunity to become more engaged with Eastern University’s community has emerged: applications for student chaplain positions.
Eastern’s student chaplains are in charge of fostering Christian community within their residence halls. Working with the Resident Advisors, they facilitate activities such as Grow Group meetings and joint worships.

“I supervise and direct the program. I am involved with the application process, although I do not make the final decision by myself,” Modica said. That choice, he explained, is made by a committee comprised “of myself and the rest of the student chaplains. We also receive recommendations from faculty familiar with applicants.”

The ninety-minute interviews begin with standard procedures, such as personal details about the applicants, before moving on to the main subject:
“We give them a case study, as in, ‘What would you do?’ types of situations,” Modica said. “These are instances that have actually occurred on the floor, such as roommate conflicts and violations of the community. We want them to react as if they were a chaplain.”

Interviews take place in a group setting, with multiple applicants being interviewed together. The committee hopes that this format will foster relationship-building among applicants, even from their first moments together in a chaplain setting.

“We have the candidates interact with each other through activities. We want them to get to know each other,” Modica said.
Asked what qualities the committee seeks in potential chaplains, Modica explained:

“We look for a student willing to serve others, so stewardship is important. We only ask for sophomore students (and above), as we want freshmen to experience the community before taking on leadership. There’s also an opportunity to teach, which makes them curious to learn. And certainly a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. … We also look for someone with a good sense of humor! It’s a good thing for ministry.”

Many of Eastern’s current student chaplains are active on campus, assisting with such events as Wednesday Night Worship in Gough Hall. However, Modica states that he does not evaluate chaplains through their successes:
“I focus on them being pro-active on the floor. I don’t start the academic year with asking sixteen different things for them to do. I ask them to advance their relationships with Jesus with not just themselves, but also through their peers.”

While this year’s interviews for student chaplains are closed, Modica offered a few words to those interested in applying next year:
“It’s a wonderful ministry. It’s a great way to understand who you are, especially through a leadership stage. Through their status as a sophomore or above, chaplains learn how to lead others even if they are upperclassmen.”

As upperclassmen are preferred for the position of chaplain, the committee must also look for applicants who are friendly and approachable, so that even underclassmen and shy students can feel comfortable coming to them.

As Modica explains, “My idea of a leader is a servant who serves others without coming across as more important. That’s why I like to use the word ‘peer,’ so there’s no ego attached to the title. I let new chaplains know that, while they have responsibility, the students they work with also share the same responsibility.”

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