Building New Pathways to Spiritual Wellness and Diversity at Lakefield College School
“Every weekday (except Wednesday) we begin the day in Chapel—referred to by many of our alumni as the “Heart and Soul of the School.” This year, we are pleased to share a new vision for our Chapel program. Remaining true to our values of embracing diversity and encouraging empathy, acceptance and a balanced lifestyle, our new Director of Spiritual Wellness and Diversity, Ms. Lorraine Brown will be focussed on involving members of our community in seeking to understand the diverse spiritual and religious expressions represented while educating one another about our differences and similarities. As a community we will be encouraged to develop a deeper appreciation for one another, enabling a more profound capacity to empathize in our community and in the world beyond LCS.” ~ John Runza, Assistant Head: School Life
The Birth of the Spiritual Pathways Program
In 2015, faculty members Lorraine Brown and Erin Braeckman, both participants on the THRIVE well-being committee, believed that the school mission, “to challenge and enable students to reach their individual potential in mind, body and spirit,” needed to be fully represented in THRIVE programming.
Lorraine and Erin, both yoga practitioners and deeply invested in exploring their own spiritual paths, believed the concept of “spirit” represented something more personal, unique to each individual. And so, in April 2016, the idea for a Director of Spiritual Pathways was born and presented to the school’s administration. In the fall of 2016 the Spiritual Pathways program was launched and this year, the new role of Director of Spiritual Wellness and Diversity is in place.
The Spiritual Pathways program was designed for LCS students to learn about and explore their own spirituality, beliefs and practices. Further, it was intended to celebrate curiosity, to discover the religions and faiths of the world, as well as specific concepts, rituals, perspectives and practices that individuals can implement and consider in their own life.
As the Spiritual Pathways program was unfolding, it became clear that the school’s Chapel program, based in Anglican tradition, was in need of review. This fall, the Chapel program will focus on creating an intentionally safe space that acknowledges that the Lakefield College School community is far more diverse than we were when the school was founded. Chapel represents a place for our community to address religious intolerance and to promote curiosity, compassion and peaceful resolution to conflict. Chapel must reflect and respond to the current spiritual needs of our diverse cultural community. Anglicanism, rooted in scripture, reason and tradition, embraces interfaith (including non-religious) dialogue and creates a wonderful opportunity for a community like LCS to share and learn about the diverse religious and spiritual traditions of our world.
In this way, LCS has strategically incorporated Lorraine and Erin’s Spiritual Pathways vision into the Chapel program. Our community will continue to participate in our beloved traditional Chapel Services, presided over by Reverend John Runza with the school’s organist, Syd Birrell, playing the hymns and songs generations of alumni have enjoyed over the years. John will also continue to celebrate the school’s special ‘sacred’ events, such as The Blessing of the Animals, Remembrance Day and Christmas and will continue to function as the school’s Anglican Chaplain while LCS remains in affiliation with the Anglican Church, in the Diocese of Toronto.
Director of Spiritual Wellness and Diversity
Within the newly created role of Director of Spiritual Wellness and Diversity, Lorraine Brown will focus on recognizing the diversity of our community and will engage in education and dialogue that brings a deeper awareness of who we are as a spiritual community. Working closely with broader LCS programs (such as THRIVE, Leadership, Character, Values, Global Learning, Service Learning, Safe Space and residential curriculum), Lorraine will integrate and incorporate the broader ethical themes that our students will also examine in other areas of their school day.
As a pluralistic culture, we seek to help our students see themselves as bridge-builders, and to recognize that they are curious to learn about the practices of those sitting behind them, beside them, in front of them; that they see themselves in everyone around them. Peace activist and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi said, “If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.” As a values-based community, it is incumbent upon LCS to ensure that students are provided with the opportunity to explore the diversity of values and ethical constructs from not only religious traditions but atheistic, humanistic and agnostic belief systems. In this way, the school will not only encourage our students to actively engage in our mission, “To challenge and enable students to reach their individual potential, in mind, body and spirit” but in so doing, help to create an understanding and empathy for world traditions and foster a greater measure of peace in our world.