Broadening perspectives on spiritual care and learning at McMaster 

The Spiritual Care and Learning Centre is a new initiative that stems from the Interfaith Working Group, part of the McMaster President's Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC).

The Spiritual Care and Learning Centre (SCLC) is a new initiative that stems from the Interfaith Working Group (IFWG), part of the McMaster President’s Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC).

After months of building a foundation for the SCLC’s community of religious, secular and spiritual (RSS) leaders — in addition to years of preliminary work across the university and with partners in the broader community — the SCLC now finds its home within the Student Success Centre (SSC) with its own space in the McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC 212).

Established as a coalition of spiritual care under the auspices of the Office of the Associate Vice-President (Students & Learning) and Dean of Students, in partnership with the Equity and Inclusion Office, and Human Resources Services, the SCLC acknowledges and celebrates a diversity of religions, spiritualities and worldviews.

“The SCLC is the realization of a more cohesive and inclusive expression of human dignity, asked for by students themselves,” says Sean Van Koughnett, associate vice president (Students & Learning) and dean of students.

“The Chaplaincy Centre has served this need as a Christian identity for many years, with other religious, secular and spiritual identities on-campus doing so informally, or as clubs. The SCLC makes spiritual care a more accessible and comprehensive service from the university and for all students, regardless of background, demonstrating to everyone a model of collaboration and celebration of diversity.”

The SCLC materializing speaks to McMaster’s commitment to a holistic student experience and a willingness to listen and tend to student needs beyond the academic, says Sofia Palma Florido, director of Diversity Services, McMaster Students Union (MSU) and chair of the Student Interfaith Council.

“The Centre responds to a much deeper understanding of student success, and I am eager to see the impact its presence on campus has for students of all walks of life.”

Spiritual care is foundational to personal well-being and offers a diverse, global approach to student support.

“The SCLC expands the reach of spiritual care to encompass more than an isolated group, club or affiliation,” says Andy Crowell, McMaster University Ecumenical Chaplain and Director of the SCLC.

“For many in the McMaster community, spiritual care and learning is an important part of holistic, personal growth and development, and the SCLC will be an essential resource in this pursuit.”

What does this mean for students and the larger McMaster community?  Here’s what you need to know.

About spiritual care

To put it simply, practicing spiritual care is acknowledging and caring for a person and their entire identity, sense of purpose and meaning in life. It’s not always tied to a specific religious, secular or spiritual set of beliefs — though it can be.

Spiritual care is about viewing humanity as meaningful and acknowledging that people share commonalities that span social, cultural and economic backgrounds, whether they identify as religious, secular, spiritual or otherwise.

Spiritual learning is a key pillar for the SCLC. Students can relate with their peers in specific religious, secular and spiritual (RSS) groups; they can also use their common values as an entry point to build empathy and learn about new perspectives. In this global environment, spiritual care also brings in international voices and knowledge.

“I believe the SCLC is a wonderful opportunity for all students who call McMaster their home to learn about the rich, diverse culture our university has to offer. It builds on the interdisciplinary nature of collaboration from students across all different faiths and backgrounds to share our practices with one another in a safe and respected place,” says Ayesha Raza, PR external at the McMaster Muslim Students’ Association.

Learn more about what constitutes spiritual care on the website.

About SCLC leaders and support

The Spiritual Care and Learning Centre is currently comprised of two resource groups: the McMaster Interfaith Issues Working Group and the Student Interfaith Council, part of the McMaster Students Union (MSU) Diversity Services.

Additionally, the centre works collaboratively with specific religious, secular and spiritual communities to promote shared learning and mutual support for everyone at McMaster and in the larger community. This includes helping individuals find their community and connecting them with spiritual guidance from qualified accredited leaders.

Meet the current SCLC leaders and get support on the website. Plus, find spiritual care and prayer spaces on campus; access Religious Indigenous Spiritual Observances (RISO) accommodation information; and learn about community resources.

The SCLC is a new initiative that’s still evolving to provide more support for the McMaster community. Check the Student Success Centre website for updates, new services and more.

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