For the last in our series hearing from people who have recently gone into chaplaincy we head to South Australia where Theo McCall interviews a new chaplain.
I caught up with the new(ish) chaplain, Thomas Bassett, who is at St Peter’s Girls School, Adelaide, for a chat about why he ended up going down the chaplaincy path!
Since he was in about year 8 or 9, Thomas wanted to be a teacher, and felt himself being drawn to teach history and geography.
He wasn’t necessarily looking at chaplaincy. His Dad is an Anglican priest, being a former chaplain of the Middle School at Melbourne Grammar; however, Thomas wasn’t looking to head down that path. Things just fell into place though and Thomas definitely saw God’s hand in that!
Day-to-day one of the challenges of chaplaincy is preaching to a varied audience, not all of whom are believers by any means and many of whom have short attentions spans. So, working against them necessarily wanting to be there, the students need to be engaged and enjoying the services, that they might then start to listen.
The chaplaincy at St Peter’s Girls School is also a teaching role, so there is a balance to be found in wearing those difference hats (chaplain and teacher) and being explicit about that. In chapel it is about engaging and persuading, whereas in the Philosophy and Religion classes it is about inviting learning and presenting information. Part of his work has involved revamping the curriculum in the Middle School.
Thomas reports to the Deputy and Head of Senior School, who has been very helpful in encouraging Thomas to keep the traditions of the school and yet also make the chapel services interesting and relevant.
Thomas is really pleased that he is able to lead a whole school chapel service every Wednesday (and that the chapel seats the whole school), as well as lead a 2nd chapel service on Fridays, alternating between the Junior and Middle/Senior Schools. He is enjoying helping the chapel band slowly build up their repertoire.
It was a privilege to talk to and encourage one of our newest chaplains here in South Australia!
Fr Theo is the Chaplain of St Peter’s College, Adelaide, a position he has held since July 2010, following 15 years of parish ministry. He is also the Senior Chaplain for Anglican Schools in South Australia and an honorary lecturer at St Barnabas’ College. He enjoys cycling, singing and music, bushwalking, good food and red wine, and making connections between movies and theology.