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What is a Chaplain?
The contemporary Chaplain is essentially an individual of faith such as Priest, Rabbi, Imam, or Minister who is accredited and authorised by his or her faith body and assigned to serve primarily with the Defence Forces, hospitals, police, schools, universities and other institutions. The organisations to which chaplains are assigned determine the chaplaincy model, whether it be ecumenical, Multi-Faith or of a specific faith.
Chaplains come from all walks of life but become chaplains primarily because they care about people.
Our Multi-Faith Chaplains
A team of people from different faith communities is available to share with you some of your life experiences at the University of Queensland.
Reverend Julia Van Den Bos
Reverend Julia Van Den Bos is Assistant Priest at Christ Church St. Lucia, working particularly with children and families.
A UQ alumnus, she is generally available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Rev Thong Ng
Rev Thong was born in China, but grew up in Malaysia. He did his university studies in Engineering, Business and Administration in New Zealand. He left a big multinational company in New Zealand to be the first Chinese Pastor of a fast growing Caucasian church there.
He did his Theological studies at The Baptist Theological College of NZ, Melbourne College of Divinity and The Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. After 16 years in NZ, he returned to Asia as a missionary with his Kiwi wife Anthea and three children. He was based in Malaysia training national pastors and leaders in the ASEAN region. He now lives in Brisbane with his wife and married children. Thong calls Australia home but still cheers for the All Blacks when it comes to Rugby Union.
Thong is passionate about partnership and networking between East and West. He is excited about the changing face of Australia and enjoys his Chaplaincy work at UQ where he connects International Students to local Aussies. He is a true “international” - loving all kinds of food and people.
If you’re new at UQ, why not pop in and have a chat with him? He is generally available on Fridays.
Venerable Wu Chin
Amituofo! I’m Venerable Wu Chin. My past training is in Mechanical Engineering and I also took a postgraduate diploma in education. Currently, I’m residing at the Pure Land Learning College Assoc. Inc. in Toowoomba doing mainly teaching, translation, and interfaith work.
I visit the campus mostly on Tuesdays from 11 am to 2 pm. There are good principles in Buddhism that we can rely on to lead a fulfilling life, whether in work, studies, or human relationships. You are welcome to find out more at our Tuesday Buddhism sharing-discussion sessions at Bldg 38 from 1 to 2 pm. The sessions are available during school terms.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to see me.
- Jehovah's Witness
Hi, my name is Bruce Vayo. I have been married to my lovely wife Karyn for 22 years. We have been living in Brisbane for most of the time. We have resided on both sides of the river and spent 7 years in the Redlands.
I have been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 26 years now and love studying the bible and benefiting from applying its guidance. This has helped me to live a satisfying life now and have a wonderful hope for the future. It is my life’s goal to help as many people as possible learn ‘WHAT DOES THE BIBLE REALLY TEACH’.
In my secular work, I am a primary school teacher, and this year have reduced my working hours so I can spend more time helping people learn about our glorious heavenly father Jehovah.
If I can help you to learn more about God, please do not hesitate to contact me. Currently I will be at the university on Thursdays from 1pm to 4pm and possibly longer as the need arises.
Please join me for Bible study every Thursday from 2-4 p.m. in Meeting Room 2 at the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy (Building 38) during Semester 2.
Phone: 0418 100 415
Rabbi Don Levy
Rabbi Don Levy was ordained in 1996 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio USA after completing the five-year graduate rabbinic program. His thesis was Purity of Arms; Teachings on Ethics in War from Various Religious Traditions.
Rabbi Levy served 12 years as a chaplain in the US Air Force, having served in the military before his calling to the rabbinate. Representing a minority faith in American life, his focus was on community-wide concerns and freedom of worship issues. The highlight of his tenure in the Air Force was when he and a Muslim colleague built a unique chapel for the use of their two communities. In 2008, Rabbi Levy retired from the military; he moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado USA to take up the position as rabbi of Temple Beit Torah, a Reform congregation in that city. After three years he decided to take a sabbatical and study clinical counselling at the University of Colorado.
In May 2012, he and his wife, Clara Levy, arrived in Australia to take up the position as rabbi of Temple Shalom of the Gold Coast. They have two children: a son, Eyal, who is in his first year of studies at the University of North Georgia; and a daughter, Ma'ayan who is a high school senior at the American Hebrew Academy in North Carolina.
Imam Abdul Quddoos Al-Azhari
Imam Abdul Quddoos Al-Azhari, was born in Tamilnadu, India. I received my primary Islamic education from Al-BAQIYAT in Tamilnadu, India and DARULULOOM, Delhi, India.
I am a HAFIZ of AL QURAN (having committed whole Quran to memory) and an ALIM of DEEN (qualified theologist). I have a Master of Art from Al-Azhar University in Cairo (Egypt) and also a Graduate Diploma in Education from the Northern Territory University, Darwin.
I have worked as an Imam for many years in such diverse places such as Fiji, Malaysia, Darwin and Brisbane. I am fluent in Arabic, English, Urdhu and Tamil languages.
I am currently the Principal of Darul Uloom Islamic Academy of Brisbane and the Founder of the Brisbane Muslim School.
For appointments please ring 3365 6439 or mobile 0402 207 594 or email email@example.com
Imam Dr Tariq Asadullah Syed
Imam Dr Tariq Asadullah Syed was born in Pakistan and completed my Islamic study courses from Primary to Ph.D in Pakistan. I have memorised the Holy Quran.
I have served in various contries as a Muslim Scholar and have been a Teacher, Professor and Imam in Pakistan, Fiji, New Zealand, England and Australia. I have travelled as a Muslim Speaker in the USA and Canada.
I have been an Imam at the Gold Coast and Bald Hills Mosques in Queensland and have represented Majlis Ulama (Panel of Muslim Scholars) in Australia and elsewhere.
Currently I have been granted Visiting Fellowship at Griffith University and have been appointed as a Chaplain at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia Campus.
I am contactable on 3365 6439, mobile 0411 591 347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Blencowe is the Minister of Kenmore Presbyterian Church – where he has served since 2006. Before going into ministry (over ten years ago now!) he trained and worked as an Electrical Engineer. While at university Steve benefited from Christian ministry on campus and he is keen for current students have a similar experience in their undergraduate years. Steve is married to Lyndel and they have four children - two in high-school and two in primary school. Although he now has an Arts degree (of sorts) he would still call himself an Engineer!
- Roman Catholic
Born and raised in Nigeria, Augustine completed his Bachelors of Philosophy (Urban University, Rome) and Bachelors of Arts (Philosophy) in Nigeria. In 2007, Augustine relocated to Brisbane under the direction of his bishop for the completion of his seminary formation at Banyo Seminary. After the completion of his Bachelors of Theology at the Australian Catholic University, he was ordained a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Nigeria. He has exercised his pastoral ministry at different parishes in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, and currently completing his doctoral thesis in Philosophy in the Australian Catholic University.
Fr Ian Howells
As a Roman Catholic chaplain at the University of Queensland, I am the latest in a succession of Jesuit priests who have filled this position: Peter L'Estrange (1981- 83) who was recently appointed Rector of Campion Hall, Oxford, and Steve Astill (1989) who is working in Nigeria, are the most recent. So I have been here for twenty-two years or so, and it has been a very rich experience for me to work with such an ecumenical, and now multi-faith, team of chaplains as we have at UQ, while living (until 2003) with 160 students and staff at St. Leo's College. Since the beginning of 2004, I have been part of the Jesuit community at St Ignatius Presbytery, Toowong.
Mass is celebrated at lunchtime on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Chaplaincy, as well as 9am Mondays at St Leo's, and 5pm Wednesdays at Duchesne. The Catholic students group on campus is called the Newman Catholic Society (after John Henry Newman) and a good part of my time goes into working with them. An Orientation camp is held in February/March and sometimes a mid-year camp in July.
We used to have a custom of visiting schools in September-November to tell prospective students about Newman and its camps and other activities.
For the last ten years there has also been a Chaplaincy Youth Worker, spending five hours a week here, and paid by the Catholic Archdiocese. Currently the worker is Paul Plant. it has been a really effective way of integrating chaplaincy with the student activities.Fr. Norbert Olsen SJ, who has been chaplain to St Leo's but is now Assistant Priest at Toowong, has also contributed to the University Chaplaincy in a number of ways.One of our great needs is to bring more women to the team. At times there have been Catholic sisters working here part-time: Srs. Sandra Lupi RSM in 1985-86, and Christine Jorgensen RSC in 1987-88. Then Chris was full time in 1990 but gradually transferred to Griffith until 1994.
Before coming to Brisbane, I had ten years at Aquinas College, a residential college for the University of Adelaide, first as university chaplain and then as head of the college. I grew up in Melbourne, and my main area of study has been in Applied Mathematics, which still keeps me going with areas for research.
Please contact Fr Ian Howells on (07) 3365 6656 for further information.
- Seventh Day Adventist
Darrin Parker is both a law student and a university chaplain. He has more than 25 years experience in various chaplaincy roles including emergency services, hospital, industrial and school chaplaincy. He grew up in Papua New Guinea, speaks Pidgin-English and some Motu. He currently pastors a multicultural church attended both by Australians and people from the balkans. He has a passion for justice and is employed in the Trust Services (legal) department of the Seventh-day Adventist church. In his spare time Darrin and his wife Leeta enjoy nature photography.
Pr. Joseph Khabbaz
Pr. Joseph Khabbaz was ordained a Seventh-day Adventist minister in 2013. He is the Seventh-day Adventist associate youth director for tertiary chaplaincy in the South QLD Conference. Joseph Khabbaz has served as a Pastor in the South QLD Conference since 2009. Prior to his call to pastoral ministry he worked as a chartered accountant in Sydney. His studies include a Bachelor of Business in Accounting, Graduate Diploma in Business at the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and a Master's of Divinity from Andrews University in the United States. Joseph is married to Christina and they enjoy mission trips, discipling young adults, playing basketball and eating mediterranean food.
- Uniting Church
The important stuff about me is that I am married to Leesa, have three sons – Jordan, Micah and Caleb, and a new daughter - Zara; and I think that Steve Waugh was the best Australian Cricket Captain and that King Arthur was a real person!
The less important info is that my first time at Uni was up in Townsville where after a long route I completed a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Mathematics. I worked for a couple of years doing multi-media educational programming before moving into the Uniting Church doing youth work after completing a Bachelor of Theology.
Since then I have worked in both the Uniting Church and the community sector doing youth work, pastored a congregation and was ordained in the Uniting Church in 2008.
Now I am back at Uni enjoying the challenge of relating faith and life in this academic setting.
One of my core convictions is that the Good News of Jesus is truly that – Good News. But this Good News is not only for our personal life but about Justice and Mercy for our world and especially those who are disadvantaged.
I am available Tuesdays – Thursdays if you want someone to talk to about general life and/or faith issues (or even to discuss the latest cricket news!).
Otherwise you can contact me on
m: 0403 839 601
Hi, Simon Gomersall is my name. I’m the one of the Uniting Church chaplains at the University of Queensland and a Pastor at Toowong Uniting Church (www.toowongunitingchurch.org.au). I’ve previously worked as a teacher, youth worker, school chaplain and consultant and have post-graduate qualifications in education and theology. My wife and three kids are the great delight of my life, followed by reading, tennis, cricket and old Landrovers. My wife (a psychologist) and I have a small consultancy/training business called ‘Cahootz’ which allows us to remain involved in a number of areas we are passionate about, such as relationships, parenting, self-care and change. We are also involved in several projects to support families from extremely remote regions in Outback Queensland.
My contact number is 0417703728 and email email@example.com
I’m normally around UQ on Wednesdays and Fridays. Feel free to be in touch if I can be of assistance in any way.
The Chapel is available for private and group worship, study, and discussions. It is equipped with Bibles, an organ, and some song books. An Overhead Projector and screen are also available upon request. Bookings can be made through St Lucia Campus.
Pastor Ric Benson
Pastor Ric Benson served as the Senior Pastor of Kenmore Baptist Church from January 1989 to July 2012 and led the church through major transition from being a mid-sized single-pastor, conservative, local community church, to a large, multi-staff contemporary regional church. He is married to Anne, and has two children, Robyn and David, both married and committed Christians in vocational Christian ministry.