As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some long-term chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation.
Our next chappy isn’t actually a chappy anymore! Chris Macnaught worked as a chappy at Balmoral State High School from 1994 to 1997 and at Wavell State High School from 2000 to 2006.
Since then he’s been a Field Development Manager for SU QLD – supervising and supporting school chaplains who work on Brisbane’s northside.
Chris says his love for supporting young people inspired him to become a school chaplain.
“Young people are very resilient and curious and energetic, as well as being inspiring and hardworking – being able to support that as a chappy was a real joy for me,” Chris says.
“So many kids these days are struggling with self-esteem, mental health and family separations – among many other issues. Being able to walk that long journey with young people to empower them is a privilege.”’
Chris says there were countless kids he remembers, but one in particular stood out.
“One young man used to be at my office door pretty much every day before school, morning tea, lunch and after school,” Chris recalls.
“Dad wasn’t around, and he was really struggling with that, so I supported him over five years of high school. I didn’t really have much to do with mum, but just listened to him and supported him with the activities and things he was involved in.
“At his year 12 graduation his mum came up to me and gave me this big hug and said ‘we made it’. It was just this lovely moment of knowing that I was working in partnership with his family to help him make it through school.”
Now, in his role as Field Development Manager, being able to support the work of school chaplaincy means the world to Chris.
“I think if chaplaincy wasn’t around, so many needs in school communities outside the classroom wouldn’t be filled,” Chris says.
“Kids, parents and teachers need someone they can go to and talk about some of the things they’re going through – it’s really important that they have someone who can help them debrief and process those things.”
Chris says while chaplaincy may not be for everyone, it can be an incredibly rewarding role.
“If you want to be a chappy you have to be able to put other people first,” Chris says.
“There’s a lot of skill sets that chaplains are asked to do, from organising events to running small groups to supporting kids and adults one-on-one.
“Most people have skills in one or two of those areas, so making sure your motivation is right will make sure you can learn the skills you need to be the best chappy you can be.”
If you’re interested and feel called to chaplaincy – there are roles open right across Queensland. To find out more about pursuing a career in chaplaincy, visit www.suqld.org.au/morehands