From 2013, Oasis, is being hosted by the University – funding a Coordinating Chaplain, an Administrative Assistant and Oasis initiatives.
What is Oasis, I hear you say?
In 2012, the chaplains described Oasis in these terms:
As a unique interfaith collaborative, Oasis promotes peace and understanding among the people of diverse cultures, faiths and backgrounds who form the tapestry of campus life in Australia today.
Serving students and staff of all religious denominations and traditions as well as those whose values are secular or atheist, Oasis aims to provide a welcoming, enjoyable and helpful environment in the promotion of friendship and wellbeing on campus.
The University has said ‘yes’ to the Oasis vision of harmony and well being and its initiatives of welcome and friendship.
As a Christian chaplain, I welcome this development. And as I reflect on it, I am reminded of two trees mentioned in the Christian Bible , nice bookends to the sixty six books. The very first book, “The Book of Beginnings”, mentions a “tree of life”. This is a tree in the Garden of Eden, one that gives knowledge of what is good and what is evil.
The last book of the Christian Bible, describing a vision of the new world, mentions a tree “whose leaves are for the healing of nations”. For “nations” we could read “cultural groups”. So the vision is one of protecting the integrity of cultural groups and harmony between them – for which, incidentally, one needs to understand and discern good from bad, with an inference of enacting the good.
I think Oasis embraces these two aspects of healing and understanding – twin trees at the waterhole.
Today a PhD student from SriLanka, who comes in to Oasis regularly as a break from her research, described how she was helping a new arrival overwhelmed by the new experience of being a new student, in a new university, in a new country – she is helping her find her way in a new culture, a new language (where the natives talk too quickly!), a new environment, new people, new customs, new food…
Right there – Oasis at work through her.
As chaplains of all beliefs, we promote and support that ethic.