We are thrilled to have recently been joined by our new Chaplaincy Co-ordinator, Susanna Offor. I sat down with Susanna to get an insight into her first few months in her role…
What brought you into this role?
After 12 years in ministry with The Salvation Army, my husband and I moved back to Essex (my home) this summer. I have always been passionate about working with and investing in young adults and so when this role appeared, I applied.
You’ve almost done 3 months… first impressions?
It’s been quite a learning curve. I always knew how hard everyone in education works, but these are busy, fast paced institutions where the majority of staff and students would say they are of no faith. Working out where a chaplain fits within this context has been interesting and challenging. Most of my time has been spent intentionally building relationships with the people around me and whoever my path crosses with.
You also work as a chaplain at Suffolk One. How is your role there different?
I work 2 days a week for Christian Youth Ministries, who employ me as a chaplain to Suffolk One. Much of my time there is spent in one-to-one conversations supporting students and staff who are experiencing challenging circumstances. My role is not as counsellor or mental health professional but as a listener, someone who can make time for others and allow them to make sense of how they are feeling.
What are the most important aspects of a chaplain’s role?
Great question! I think I am still working that one out, but I would say the first thing is to be actively present wherever you are based. I think Chaplaincy is about showing up, even if you are not sure what your role will be in a particular situation. It’s about intentionally asking people how they are and taking time to hear the answer. It is about sharing faith in a way that respects the thoughts, views and beliefs of others.
What do you like best about being a chaplain?
I love people! I love learning how others tick and helping others make sense of life and faith. It’s a privilege when people trust you with the details of their lives, sharing both their joys and sorrows.
How would you see your role developing?
I think there are lots of people at the college and university who might value the support chaplaincy can offer. Rather than being mainly reactive, perhaps we could be more proactive in letting people know we’re here for them.