News & Events
Jan 24, 2018
MOU for Multifaith Services renewed at UVic
Forty years after a joint chaplaincy was established at the University of Victoria (UVic) with three faith communities, the university’s Multifaith Services celebrated the enduring value of these evolving and diverse relationships with the signing of a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on January 18, 2018.
“I would like to thank the chaplains and their faith communities for their long-standing and ongoing commitment to the spiritual health and education of students, faculty and staff at the University of Victoria,” says President Jamie Cassels. “Their contributions of time and resources, as well as their encouragement and involvement in thoughtful reflection and dialogue, have a significant and positive impact on our university community.”
Special guest Bishop Remi De Roo, retired Canadian Roman Catholic Bishop of Victoria, spoke about the history of UVic and the faith communities. The original MOU was signed in 1977 between UVic and the Catholic, Anglican and United Churches, which had established a joint ministry at UVic in the late 1960s to provide pastoral care to the entire university community.
“The MOU reflects the university’s understanding of the important role of spirituality in student health and wellness, as well as the diversity of our campus community,” says Rita Knodel, director of counselling services and multifaith services.
Fr. Dean Henderson, Roman Catholic Chaplain at the university, added, “There were twelve faith communities involved: six Christian denominations (Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United) and six non-Christian religious traditions (Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian Science, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian). We come together to serve the students, staff, and faculty of a decidedly secular university, and this is a wonderful occasion.
“Signing this MOU was the culmination of three years of working through the forty-year-old document previously signed by the three Christian leaders. As I reviewed the document, I realized we chaplains and university administrative representatives had talked, laughed and discussed each section and many of its words at length, to ensure real freedom for each and real unity for that which was common. Actually, it felt almost miraculous that we Christian chaplains agreed on a common prayer to offer for the signing ceremony! We have every reason to celebrate.”
Multifaith Services provides religious support and spiritual care for interested students, staff and faculty, including pastoral counselling, prayer and meditation groups, learning circles, religious education, retreats and workshops on a variety of topics.
The Interfaith Chapel, designed by architect John D. DiCastri, opened in 1985 to provide a place of celebration and meditation for all faiths. Multifaith Services is now located in the Interfaith Chapel building.
Representatives from UVic, each faith community, and special guests gathered to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for Multifaith Services at the universty, on January 18, 2018