Ladies and Gentlemen – an announcement!

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:

Vision
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.

Mission Statement
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.

Greetings to the Muslim Community on the Eve of Ramadan and in response to the Tragedy in Norway

Assalamu Alaykum!

The chaplains at Flinders University of the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Pagan faiths bring greetings to the Muslim Community at Flinders on the eve of Ramadan.

We recognise the contributions you make to the Australian community and particularly the university community and our sincere hope is that you will be successful in your studies and that those of you who will return to your home nations with carry full and content memories of your time in Australia.

We bring our best wishes to you as you enter this special time of fasting and remembrance of those in need amongst us.

In this last week we have heard news of a tragedy in Norway in which a fanatic, who has called himself a Christian, has destroyed buildings in Oslo with a bomb, and gone on to slaughter innocent young people who were camping on a nearby island. It took no time at all for newspapers to assume that the bomb was the work of Muslim extremists. They were wrong.

Some of you come from countries where such acts of violence are a present reality. But this is Norway’s first taste on their home soil.

On Saturday afternoon, Norwegian students will gather to mourn their loss and confront their grief. They and their families are the ones in need of your prayers today and during Ramadan.

As Chaplains we pledge that Oasis is, and will remain, a focal point on this campus for the open and honest acceptance of people of good will regardless of faith, and the promotion of the tolerant, accepting Australian society we believe in and strive for. We remain pledged to the principles of cooperation and dialogue, to extending warm hospitality and understanding to all who use our facility for prayer, for worship, for study, for scholarship, and for cultural promotion. We are enriched by your presence.

Assalamu Alaykum!