The Brock community is sad to say goodbye to Brock University’s Andre Basson at the end of this school year. Basson has been Chaplain of Brock University since 2004. The role of Chaplain is a faith based role at the university. Basson works for the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), working at Brock to help students connect with Christian groups and develop a strong faith through small groups, Bible studies and connections with Christian community. Brock has chaplains for several faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Bahá’i, all collectively a part of the university’s Faith and Life Center.
“I have always considered the whole campus as part of my ministry, from counselling students, conducting a memorial for a student or faculty member who has passed away, organizing panel discussions and conferences on a topics of current interest, to officiating at the wedding of a member of the Brock community, serving on various university committees, and organizing off-campus trips and faith-based social-justice programs for students in Africa and Latin America,” said Basson.
Basson values student relationships highly, and this is reflected in his impact on the Brock community.
“I count every conversation I had with a student and every opportunity to help a student in his or her faith journey a highlight. Every student, no matter who his or her faith or belief system, who took the chance to want to become my friend (and there are so many), I consider a highlight,” said Basson.
“I know he’ll leave behind many students who confided in him and sought his wisdom and advice, so I can only imagine he’ll be sorely missed by all his students,” said Emma Woodruff, a second-year Brock student. Woodruff is a student leader with Everything Under the Son, an on-campus Christian organization for Brock students that Basson heads.
Basson didn’t start out his career as a chaplain. In fact, Basson taught Classics for 18 years before pastoring a church in Niagara Falls in 2000. He was asked to be a member of the committee that oversaw the Brock CRC Chaplain. In 2004, the previous Chaplain left and Basson applied for the role to get back into “university life” and combine his pastoral and academic training.
“Above all [I became Chaplain] because I truly felt called to the position, a conviction that has only grown stronger in the years that followed,” said Basson.
Basson’s work at Brock has not gone unnoticed and many students testify to his willingness to mentor and work with students in a variety of circumstances.
“Brock has been really blessed to have a chaplain who cares so much and dedicates so much of his time into the ministry,” said Woodruff.
Basson had a difficult time naming his favourite memories and most inspiring experiences during his time at Brock, but a few did stand out to him. First, he mentioned a visit with several Brock students to the site where Nelson Mandela had been incarcerated, Robben Island.
“I was deeply moved by the solemnity and respect with which [the students] followed the guide, a former inmate himself, from building to building and cell to cell,” he explained. Basson also mentioned worship experiences that stood out to him. Specifically, a Taizé Christian worship service organized by students for Christians on campus.
“Of all the worship services I have ever attended in my life, and I have been to many, it was by far the most uplifting and inspiring one.” Finally, Basson mentioned Sky Sessions, a laid back, welcoming Sunday evening worship service that was hosted once a month by students.
“I see the whole campus, warts and all, as part of God’s creation, and our role as Christians [is] to restore the world to what God originally intended it to be, a process of restoration that began in all earnest in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” said Basson of his vision for his ministry at Brock. “My vision for the ministry was to help students see how they can contribute to God’s sjalom in their studies but also by being involved in as many secular organizations and activities on campus where, in the words of St. Paul (2 Cor. 5:19 & 20), we are called to be ‘Christ’s ambassadors’ and to whom God ‘through Christ [has given us] the ministry of reconciliation,’ and to be able to pursue this calling throughout their life.” Basson describes “sjalom” as “a peace in the widest sense of the word: a peace without war, certainly, but also a peace without injustice, oppression (social, political, or economic), [or] discrimination.”
For Woodruff, Basson stood out as an amazing Chaplain for a few reasons.
“[Basson] is not only one of the most patient men I know but also one of the most caring and non-judgemental. He has such a strong grasp on the Bible and its teachings, and you can see that in his work as he exemplifies Jesus through the work he does with his students. The amount Andre cares for his students also makes him stand out as a great chaplain.
While Basson will be missed, he will not be forgotten by student’s lives that he touched. “I would like to measure my impact in terms of the many members of the Brock community who in years to come will remember me for showing a little bit of Christ to them, even though they did not and may never even recognize it as such”.