Hollis Wilson


The Reverend Hollis Wilson

The Reverend Hollis Wilson wants to make sure that there is a star in Heaven for every MLC girl.

The former NASA engineer turned Chaplain says that the College's culture of Service Learning is the key to ensuring that will happen.

"I want us to be as best as we can in terms of Service Learning because then it is about connecting the Word – the Gospel, the Old testament, the Epistles, the words that we hear from Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Einstein, whoever they are – and our actions," Rev. Wilson said.

"It's the whole notion of a lifelong commitment to service and that is giving your time, giving your talent and your energy; that's just what you do. It's like breathing. It becomes part of who you are and I would love for that to be part of every girl's life."

Rev. Wilson made his return to MLC in Semester 2, 2013. He had previously worked at the College from 1995 to 1998, but left to be General Secretary of the Uniting Church Synod of Western Australia followed by 13 years at St Stephen's School in Duncraig.

He says chaplaincy is all about developing relationships across the College and enjoys the vibrancy of engaging with the staff and the students.

"I want the girls to be able to come to me with their concerns; their spiritual and social worries that are impacting on them," Rev. Wilson said.

"I have two daughters, one who is in Year 12, so I have a personal insight into the struggles and trials that these girls face. Growing up is not easy and I know how important it is to have someone around who won't judge you but may be able to offer a word of guidance or comfort.

"I like to think that our call to the girls to serve the community helps put things into perspective."

His job, according to The Reverend, is to marry the words he preaches from the Gospel and the Old Testament with the way the girls serve the community and each other.

Jesus was a social radical whose message is more relevant today than it has ever been, says the man who is known to the students as 'Rev'. It's the subversive nature of the Gospel that makes the message of social justice so poignant in the 21st century.

"In the western world, like Australia, injustice can be much more subtle. The fact is that there is human trafficking in Australia but we don't see it because it occurs in garages and empty houses where they just cram a bunch of people in. It's not obvious," Rev Wilson said.

MLC's Service Learning promotes the giving of not just money, but of time. The students are encouraged to find ways of supporting those in need and investing themselves in that. It's also about opening the girls' eyes to a world that is knocking on their doors.

"I'm in awe of the 'City After Dark' programme which is run by Lynne Hughes, the College's Health Education Coordinator," said the Chaplain.

"For those girls to go into the city after dark and to see things that they wouldn't normally see in Claremont at eight o'clock at night is amazing. It gives them the opportunity to see the world, the world that is not so far away from them, up close and maybe develop some empathy, some compassion, to come away from it feeling differently.

"That's what I feel we get out of the Vietnam trip and a bunch of other things we're planning for the future. Take girls and let them get in among it and see how other people live."

At the forefront of the Service Learning are the messages of the Bible, however, Rev. Wilson says that Jesus' "central justice message" continues to be diluted despite historical documentation of his existence.

"In the post-modern world, people can see this message as somehow fanciful, like a nice myth or fairy story. It's as if Jesus wasn't real and he was just this character that had long hair and beard."

While Rev. Wilson wants to make Christianity a "living faith tradition", he also wants the students to respect others and their faiths.

"I think the world's great religions all have something to contribute and are all important," he said.

In his job at MLC, Rev. Wilson has drawn inspiration from two writers. Hugh McKay wrote "It's not what you say, it's what you do" and in the Bible, James wrote "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:14-26)

"I would love for that to be part of every girl. It might not mean that she becomes a committed Christian, if she does great, but if that's not where she is at this point in time, that's okay. If she is doing something with her life to be of service to someone somewhere then there is a star in heaven for her."