New beginnings: Introducing Carleton’s new chaplain

Over the summer, Rev. Wayne Menard has been taking a crash course about Carleton University. He officially began his new position as chaplain in early August, replacing Tom Sherwood, who served as the university’s chaplain for 10 years.

With a career spanning three decades, Menard has worked as an ordained minister for 20 years in congregations in Montreal and Alberta and, recently, St. David and St. Martin Presbyterian Church in Ottawa.

He says his age, experience and desire to help others in a different way led him on the path to the chaplaincy.

Menard, who is bilingual, believes there is a big difference in approach between serving a congregation and Carleton, with its population of over 20,000.

“Ministry is in the trenches with more emphasis on the day-to-day challenges people face,” he says. “Chaplaincy is more poignant. You need to establish a presence to be there for the students. Many 18- and 19-year-olds find themselves lost in university — this can be quite a shock when you come from different faiths or cultures.

“It’s not about making non-religious people religious but to facilitate a conversation about faith and the world around us.”

Supporters of Carleton’s chaplaincy knew exactly what skills and strengths they were looking for in the search for the new chaplain. Sherwood’s replacement had to be keen on interfaith dialogue, working with youth and have fundraising capabilities.

“I wanted someone who understood the challenges facing university students, especially those at a secular institution,” says Christina Anderson, a psychology student who has volunteered at the chaplaincy since 2004. “You must reach out to other denominations and support them in a transitional environment.”

Anderson was one of 20 students who had input into the candidate process and sat on a panel of students who questioned Menard, in the later stages of the interview, to better understand his experience and approach to university life.

“My input is valuable since this is a unique opportunity,” says Anderson. “Carleton is one of the few universities in North America with a full-time chaplain and chaplaincy, and I want it to succeed.”

Menard says he is prepared to be busy to deal with the rush of students arriving for fall semester. His goal is to continue reaching out to students and exploring interfaith dialogue on campus.

“These students have lots of energy, hope and smarts. It’s hard not to like that.”

This entry was written by Melissa Nisbett and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

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