For many students, spirituality plays an important role in their identity and to meet the diverse spiritual and religious needs of students, U of T created the Multi-Faith Centre for Spiritual Study and Practice (MFC).
But how does a secular university accommodate such a variety of faith traditions? The answer, says Richard Chambers, Director of the MFC, is to welcome religious communities without privileging them. Here are some of the ways in which the MFC is working for and with students:
- Multi-faith facilities and related services
Currently, there are multi-faith spaces located in nine buildings across campus. They can be booked online for prayer, worship, and other spiritual practices. The Bahen Centre’s space, for example, is usually booked for midday prayers (Dhuhr prayers) and provides mats.
The Campus Chaplains Association includes twelve denominations to date and all of the chaplains are here to support students, faculty, and staff at U of T. They can help you with finding community on campus, counselling, events (retreats, celebrations, forums), discussion groups, and worship opportunities on campus.
The MFC can also help you navigate any concerns related to campus life, such as issues like dietary restrictions or religious observances. Richard is available by email to give students any guidance possible.
Getting involved with the MFC is a great opportunity to learn more about the variety of faith traditions on campus and to better develop your own spirituality. “If you are looking for answers to the big questions in life,” says Richard, “We can help you with that!”
The Centre regularly hosts events like discussion groups, talks, retreats, and workshops that are available to all U of T students. Richard also encourages those who identify as atheists to join in on multi-faith events. New perspectives enrich discussion and involvement can help students build the skills necessary to participate in a multi-faith society after graduation.
“Muffin Madness” is one of the Centre’s most popular events, giving students the chance to chat over free, no-strings-attached muffins. The Centre also coordinates Grief Sharing Circles which provide drop-in support for students with different kinds of loss.
“Write Now” is one of the Centre’s newer programs: the group holds weekly drop-in writing sessions geared at nurturing writing and reflection. No previous writing experience required!
You can find more information about the Multi-Faith Centre, including programming and booking information, on their website and Facebook page. Students can also email Richard with any questions regarding religious and spiritual life on campus.