Full-time chaplaincy sought

Concordia’s Muslims do not have a full-time chaplain to meet their spiritual needs on campus and Imam Salam Elmenyawi, the Muslim associate chaplain, is anxious to broaden his responsibilities by obtaining a permanent position.
Elmenyawi has been with the Concordia chaplaincy for six years and is active in the Muslim community of Montreal for 30 years. He leads the prayer services at Concordia, as well as, at McGill University.
His desire to become part of the full-time staff coincides with his intention to work together with the other chaplains to facilitate the student community. “We will pioneer together,” he said.
He has not made his proposal official because of other priorities needing his attention, he wishes to increase his credibility within the chaplaincy, design programs in which Concordia can work together with McGill and make a difference regarding the racial issues and stereotypes still existing within his community.
“I want to be an element of the decision making process instead of being on the receiving end,” says Elmenyawi. Unfortunately, the realization of this want cannot be implemented if he remains in his part-time position because associate chaplains are rarely consulted regarding dire issues.
Elmenyawi’s participation within the Muslim community of Montreal began when he immigrated to Canada in 1972 to study computer engineering at McGill after completing his degree in Islamic studies back in Egypt.
He is now the President of the Muslim Council of Montreal, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Quebec and remains closely tied with his Mosque.
The campus ministry within Concordia is composed of over two dozen chaplains of various faiths and denominations. Their co-ordinator, Peter CotZ, performs the administrative role and provides the managing structure of the department while being also a university chaplain.
All staff meets a few times a year to reflect on current affairs, discuss and help with social needs and organize activities to bring the community together; full-time chaplains meet more regularly. The leadership of each meeting is rotated among the full-time staffed chaplains.
Chaplains are employed by the university primarily by the support and recommendation of their communities. “Concordia takes our department and what we have to offer very seriously,” said CotZ. “There is no specific framework by which a chaplain is selected,” said Elmenyawi.
The campus ministry is involved in social justice action, community involvement and student support programs such as: education on justice issues, prison visits, volunteer work placements, Mother Hubbard’s Thursday night meals for the students with limited means and counselling and referrals.
The budget is mainly incurred from volunteer donations, Concordia and students’ fees. It is distributed according to salaries and social activities. Associate chaplains are entirely financially supported by their religious groups or churches while usually having full-time vocations elsewhere; the full-time staff is compensated in full by the university. McGill’s chaplaincy is totally supported monetarily by their communities.
“Concordia is very generous with what has been historically provided for our chaplaincy,” said CotZ, “There is always a possibility for that to grow.”
Unfortunately for Salam Elmenyawi, his inclination for a permanent position within the university might come with more struggles because the Concordia chaplaincy has no intention to expand its staff just yet; there have been layoffs of full-time staff members.
“Concordia is very generous by providing office space on campus to most of its chaplains. We are looking to accommodate further by finding funds directly for the services provided by the associate chaplains,” said CotZ.


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