When I embarked on my post-secondary journey I did not know who I would meet. However I was fortunate enough to land a job on campus during my first year while at Brock. This would mean I would be interacting with lots of students, faculty, staff and the community at large. There is one person I will never forget and that is Andre Basson. Andre is Brock’s chaplain and will be retiring this April.
A chaplain is defined as someone who oversees the religious needs of an organization.
Andre could be heard giving the graduation opening prayer along with prayers at the Remembrance Day service. When a student or faculty member passed, Andre was often the one doing the memorial service. However, Andre also knows how to get people laughing. I have experienced sore stomachs from laughter related to conversations I have had with Andre.
He would frequent The Zone or the rowing facility on a regular basis. I was working in the equipment room. I would welcome Andre and provide him with a wrist band so he could work out. We would engage in a brief conversation each time. Soon after, he invited me to one of his weekly discussions he held on campus about faith. I was new to my faith and wanted it to grow deeper. Andre’s discussion allowed for this.
After attending the group for a semester, Andre asked if I wanted to lead. I agreed and enjoyed this opportunity for growth. Andre did not just instruct one to lead, he would also provide mentoring so I could better facilitate the group. I would meet each week and provide him with feedback on how I thought the group was progressing.
Andre did not just associate with fellow clergy. I would often see Andre talking with custodial staff and Sodexo staff in the hall. He made sure everyone felt included no matter what their religious background was. I was challenged by him to speak with some people beside my circle of friends. I engaged in conversation with a custodial staff member after I was challenged and I have since become close friends with this individual and so much so that we would go to athletic events together.
Andre also organized a fall and spring exam retreat. This allowed for a time of relaxation and an alternative space for studying. He is quite the cook and I remember fondly the food he would prepare for our retreats; it was endless.
Andre is also not a couch athlete. When taking a study break at retreat and playing something like pick up soccer, Andre would join in. I had the privilege of going to the world cup qualifying match with him, which took place last summer between Canada and the USA, and this was the only time I heard Andre raise his voice. It was a very exciting game, even though Canada did not end up winning.
I am very thankful for getting to know Andre. I will always cherish the memories. I will never forget his kindness and his way of including everyone as his friend. Thanks, Andre.
-James Symons, Contributor