UTAS Chaplaincy takes off in 2024

By Josh Low

The University of Tasmania (UTAS) Catholic Chaplaincy has seen a recent surge back to life, with four new additions to the expanded team spread across Hobart and Launceston.

Based in Hobart, Campus Ministry Coordinator Daniel de la Motte will work to support both Fr John Joseph Martin LEB, who will serve as Chaplain of the UTAS Hobart Campus, and Fr Chathura Silva who has already been ministering to students as Chaplain at the Launceston Campus.

Two new arrivals from Anointing Fire Catholic Ministries in Victoria, Merin Abraham and Aleena Nelson, will also assist Fr Chathura with ministry on the ground in Launceston.

Office of Youth Evangelisation Director, Sam Clear, is pleased the university chaplaincy will be better equipped to minister to university students.

“Over the years many people have dedicated themselves to the welfare of university students, such as Fr Shammi Perera, Fr Michael Tate, Sr Elizabeth Vagg, the Palavra Viva community and the Sisters of the Immaculata.

“They have done so to marvelous affect, but in the last few years it has fallen to just a couple of people, resulting in them being stretched.

“So it is a relief to now have Fr John Joseph, Daniel, Merin and Aleena assisting in that ministry alongside Fr Chathura,” he said.

Mr Clear said the group will be walking with university students daily, helping to build community through shared meals and excursions, whilst always having a focal point of prayer and the sacraments.

“The university chaplaincy, for decades, has been a source of hope and fortitude for many university students who step from high school to university and are often faced with very serious obstacles to their faith in God, to their belief systems, and to their established morals or virtues.

“The chaplaincy has in the past, offered a helping hand to young adults dealing with a myriad of life-decisions, and hopefully that will continue,” he said.

Having had experience working in Catholic education, Daniel de la Motte said he is looking forward to being on the ground and ministering to young people and the Catholic staff at the university.

“I know some of the students that I have ministered to personally as a youth minister in secondary schools, who are starting university this year,” he explained.

“Relationship building is the key – and there seems to be a great opportunity in this role to first touch base with and then create a bridge for those Catholic school graduates to reconnect with the faith or continue their journey,” he said.

Fr John Joseph described his involvement in the university chaplaincy as “an honour and privilege”.

“After COVID and with an increase in online learning, campus life is not the same as it was.

“Nonetheless, the human need for connection, fellowship, meaning, and ultimately God, remains unchanged.

“I’m looking forward to serving as chaplain to the Catholic students in the south, as well as UTAS associates and faculty, and to be present for those curious about the Catholic faith,” he said.

Having recently arrived from Melbourne, Merin Abraham and Aleena Nelson will be Assisting Fr Chathura in the state’s north for the year.

Following their own personal life-changing faith encounters, they have since been involved in ministry over the past few years.

“I found Christ at a very broken and difficult period of my life and am now so convicted of the power of God and His grace which can completely change the trajectory of our lives and fill us with a greater sense of love, purpose and hope that never fades,” Merin said.

“I believe it is only fair that I preach and give that same love and knowledge of Christ through my service whether it be through my actions, words, or deeds.

“Although this came with many sacrifices, challenges, and moving away from familiar grounds, the greatest appeal of this ministry is the opportunity to minister in and say yes to God for Tasmania.”

Aleena said her unique experience involved witnessing the transformative ways Jesus works in the lives of those who come to Him.

“I hope to contribute to the UTAS ministry by assisting the Archdiocese in its mission, with my overarching goal to be a vessel of Christ’s love, helping others experience the transformative power that I encountered.”

For more information on the UTAS Catholic Chaplaincy, please contact daniel.delamotte@aohtas.org.au

Tags: Front Page News, Youth Evangelisation