Spiritual Care and Learning Centre (SCLC) Leaders

All Spiritual Care and Learning Centre leaders share the values of human dignity, diversity and respect. The following bios reflect the SCLC leaders’ diverse belief systems based on their individual RSS identities. While there may be differences, each one adheres to a common set of core shared values.

If you’re in need of guidance, support or community related to spiritual care, the SCLC leaders are here to help!

Andy Crowell

Andy Crowell

Director, Spiritual Care and Learning Centre, McMaster University

Email: crowella@mcmaster.ca

Andy is the director of McMaster’s Spiritual Care and Learning Centre at McMaster University. Having served as a spiritual care provider for faith-based communities and institutional settings for more than 30 years, his experience reveals how the commonality of our human spirit has many ways to address our diverse human conditions. Andy believes that when we address our diversity in this way, we’re not only a more compassionate society, but also a more just society.

Dr. Raj Balkaran

Dr. Raj Balkaran

Indian Spirituality Chaplain; Director, School of Indian Wisdom; Instructor, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

Email: raj@rajbalkaran.com

Dr. Raj Balkaran is a scholar of ancient Indian Sanskrit narrative texts. He is also a spiritual adept, having received multiple initiations and having been engaged in daily spiritual practice for over two decades. He runs a thriving spiritual counsel practice supporting folks of various stripes who resonate with Indian spirituality — be they Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Jewish, Christian or SBNR.

A seasoned storyteller and educator, Dr. Balkaran teaches online courses at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and his own School of Indian Wisdom apply ancient Indian wisdom teachings to modern life. Beyond research, teaching, speaking and spiritual counsel, Dr. Balkaran hosts the New Books in Indian Religions podcast where he interviews top scholars on their cutting-edge research. Visit Dr. Balkaran’s website for more information.

Rev. Allison Barrett

Rev. Allison Barrett

Unitarian Universalist Chaplain

Email: barretam@mcmaster.ca

Allison is an ordained Universalist Unitarian Minister and Chaplain and draws a wide and embracing circle around what constitutes spiritual care. A member of the McMaster community for many years, with experience in parish, hospital and campus settings, Allison believes in the power of love to heal, overcome, illuminate and inspire. She cares deeply about inclusion, equity, diversity and justice within our human family and for our fellow life on Mother Earth. Allison also works with her therapy dog, Biscuit, to bring affection and comfort to those in need (including stressed-out students!).

Paula Baruch

Cantor Paula Baruch

Ordained Jewish Clergy, Spiritual Companion, Program Director, Temple Anshe Sholom

Email: pbaruch@anshesholom.ca

Cantor Paula Baruch serves Temple Anshe Sholom, Canada’s oldest Reform Jewish Synagogue, founded in 1850. As Cantor, her focus is on the use of music to engage the spirit and connect souls. Cantor Paula Baruch offers sessions in Spiritual Direction, Hebrew learning, Torah and Haftorah chanting skills. She has taught all ages with an emphasis on how music brings light to our souls. Cantor Baruch has a BA in Theatre and Economics, a B Ed in Drama and History, an MA in Adult Education and Ordination from the Hebrew Union College Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York City. She is proud of her five amazing adult children, two of which attained degrees from McMaster University.

Jeff Druery

Jeff Druery

Coordinator, Spiritual Director, Open Circle

Email: jdruery@mcmaster.ca

Jeff Druery is a trained spiritual companion and leadership coach who accompanies students from all faiths and non-religious perspectives to discuss values, meaning, spirituality and how to find the place where one’s “deep gladness meets the worlds’ deep need.” In addition to offering individual spiritual companioning to students, Jeff facilitates mindfulness circles, extra-curricular courses, retreats and other activities for students through McMaster Open Circle. He coordinates Open Circles’ Community Volunteer Circles, a network of weekly volunteer groups where students serve and reflect together while making a positive difference in the community.

After studying mathematics and music, Jeff trained in spiritual direction through Ontario Jubilee Associates. In 2001, he co-founded Student Open Circles, the supporting charity for Open Circle. Jeff enjoys creative writing, making music and biking around Hamilton.

Marybeth Druery

Marybeth Leis Druery

Coordinator, Spiritual Director, Open Circle

Email: leismb@mcmaster.ca

Marybeth Leis Druery offers spiritual companioning for students from a diversity of backgrounds, focusing on meaning in your life and providing opportunities to reflect and try creative practices. Marybeth deepens her journey through practices from diverse spiritual traditions, art, dreamwork, the Enneagram, body awareness, movement and meditation. Marybeth loves accompanying students during this unique and important stage of life, and she knows first hand what it means to sift through the worldview she was raised with and begin the discovery of her authentic self.

She co-founded Student Open Circles in 2001 at McMaster University, where she facilitates weekly reflection, mindfulness and creativity circles, personal development courses, retreats and leadership development. Marybeth is a trained spiritual director through the Ontario Jubilee program, and holds an expressive arts practitioner graduate certificate through Haliburton School of Art and Design. She loves people, painting, reading  and Hamilton’s downtown and green spaces.

Judith Moses Dworkin

Judith Moses Dworkin

Vice President of Campus Life and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Hillel Ontario

Email: judith.dworkin@hillelontario.org

Judith Moses Dworkin is the Vice President of Campus Life and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Hillel Ontario, and formerly the Senior Director of McMaster Hillel since 2015. In 2021, she was named a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence by Hillel International, the highest honour awarded to Hillel employees. Judith is a strong believer in pluralistic spaces and conversations where students can explore who they are and grapple with life’s big questions.

Judith is a graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Education in the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE) program, and she holds an undergraduate degree in business administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University. Originally from Toronto, Judith has worked at Hillels in North Carolina and Michigan as well as Michigan Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, where she advanced public programming in non-profits across Michigan. Judith has more than 20 years professional experience in government, higher education and non-profit organizations.

Michael Fallon

Dr. Michael D. Fallon

Director and Chaplain, Christian Reformed Campus Ministry, McMaster University

Email: fallonm@mcmaster.ca

Michael loves to discuss the challenges, pitfalls and joys of life. One of the things he relishes the most is meeting students over a cup of coffee and listening to their stories.  

A lover of learning and the University, Michael believes that all of life is sacred and that the truths that arise out of the university have their origins in the person of Jesus Christ in whom all things cohere.

In addition to loving the Creator and His son, Michael is passionate about the creator’s beautiful but broken creation. As a mountaineer, ORCA expedition leader and wilderness guide, Michael has a passion for the outdoors and enjoys introducing students to some of the beautiful places that he has discovered in his wanderings around Ontario. Michael is the director of All Things, the CRC Ministry at McMaster, and the mentor to Fully Alive, a McMaster men’s group. Michael has a PhD from the University of Guelph and an M.A., from the University of Toronto.

Jason Grieg

Jason Grieg

Roman Catholic Campus Minister

Email: campusmincanadianmartyrs@hamiltondiocese.com

Jason Grieg lives in Kitchener, with his wife and youngest son.  He lived and shared life in various L’Arche communities in Canada, which profoundly shaped his faith life, philosophical anthropology, and vision of the good life.  After completing graduate degrees in theology and ethics, Jason has lectured in the Disability Studies and Philosophy departments at King’s University College in London, Ontario.  As a complement to his teaching, Jason also accompanied a person with a cognitive impairment in Kitchener 3-4 days a week.  Through his gifts of prayer, intellectual curiosity, and desire for encounter, Jason looks forward to serving the Catholic students at McMaster, along with engaging with all those seeking beauty, truth, and goodness in our world.

Fr Paul Guirgis

Fr Paul Guirgis

Coptic Chaplain, priestly capacity in Mississauga

Email: father_paul@hotmail.com

Fr Paul was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and immigrated to Canada with his family at a young age. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2007 in the Coptic Orthodox Church and serves in the church of the Virgin Mary and St Athanasius, Mississauga, where his ministry is youth oriented, including campus ministries at McMaster with students in general, and Coptic students in particular.

Fr Paul holds an MTS in Orthodox Studies and an MA in theological studies from the University of Toronto. He is currently enrolled in the DMin, Doctor of Ministry, program at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, NY.

Hosam Helal

Imam Hosam Helal

Muslim Chaplain, Program Coordinator, Islamic Society of North America

Email: hosam@isnacanada.com

Imam Hosam Helal currently serves as the Imam and religious affairs director at Islamic Society of St. Catharines. He also serves as the associate chaplain at Brock University, an instructor at ISNA Canada and a director of Mishkah Social Services. He previously served as the Imam at the Muslim Association of Hamilton and Program Coordinator at ISNA Canada.

He has served as Imam, khateeb, teacher and instructor for the last 10 years at several universities throughout Canada and the United States. Imam Hosam Helal completed his education in health sciences, sociology, neuroscience, and near and Middle Eastern civilization at the University of Toronto and in Quran exegesis at Al-Azhar University.

He memorized the Quran at the age of eight and has since received several Ijazahs in its recitation styles. As the founder and instructor of Quran Journey, he travels across the world with the intentions of helping Muslims reconnect deeply with the Quran.

Rory Tasker

Venerable Jamyang Khedrup (Rory Tasker)

Ordained Buddhist Monk, Religious Interpreter at Lama Yeshe Ling Centre

Email: taskerr@mcmaster.ca

Rory Tasker has been a Buddhist monk since 2004, and he’s lived in Buddhist communities in India, Thailand and Europe. Since completing the LRZTP translator training in 2010, he has served as a Tibetan-English religious interpreter for Geshe Sonam and other teachers from Sera Monastery at a variety of Buddhist centres in Europe, Asia and Canada. Currently, he translates Buddhist courses for Geshe Sonam at Lama Yeshe Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Burlington, Ontario.

Rory was an M.A. student in McMaster University’s Department of Religious Studies from 2019 to 2021. Rory will continue with his PhD studies at the University of Toronto, OISE, where he plans to research the pedagogies employed by traditionally trained Tibetan teachers when presenting Buddhism to diverse communities in North America.

Kathy Knott

Elder Katherine (Kathy) Knott

Elder-in-Residence, McMaster (Honorary Member)

Katherine Knott, Anishinaabe Kwe, Crane or Shuggi, Jijakk clan of the Curve Lake First Nation, part of the great Mississauga Nation.  She is a dimom (mother) to 4 children and Nokomis (grandmother) to 11 Cobeda (great grandmother) to 4 beautiful little people.    

Kathy has participated with McMaster as part of the Elder in Residence program for 7 years and is grateful for the opportunities to share and learn with the students, staff and academics.  The time spent with her family and friends is very special to her.   

She has worked in various levels of management within corporate and government settings and has had the opportunity to work with a number of First Nations both within the province of Ontario and Nationally. 

Katherine retired 15 years ago as the “Director of Education, Ontario Region of Indian and Northern Affairs “a position which she held for 10 years. 

During her tenure she had the responsibility to manage the Federal government’s responsibility for Education in partnership with 133 Ontario First Nations.  This responsibility comes from the Indian Act and various Treaties.  In Canada all provinces have constitutional jurisdiction for Education, which requires a tri-partite relationship in the delivery of educational services.   

In addition to her time spent at McMaster, she volunteers on two committees in her home community, enjoys the outdoors, golfing, reading and continuing to do various crafts including beading and sewing.   

Rev. Dr. Charles Meeks

Rev. Dr. Charles Meeks

Ecumenical Chaplain (Medical Leave until January 2025)

Email: meeksc@mcmaster.ca

Rev. Dr. Charles Meeks has served in both ministry and higher education settings for over 15 years. He is ordained in the Niagara Diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada and holds a PhD in Theology from St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

Charles wants all seeking spiritual care at McMaster to feel welcome, and is committed to helping folks focus more on what we have in common than what divides us. On the more academic side, he has written and researched in the fields of early church history and modern theology, and is a member of the North American Academy of Ecumenists.

Gregory Ogorzalek

Fr Grzegorz Ogorzalek

Roman Catholic Hamilton Diocese Chaplain, McMaster University; Priest, Canadian Martyrs Church

Email: gogorzalek@hamiltondiocese.com

Gregory (Grzegorz) Ogorzalek is the Roman Catholic chaplain for McMaster University and lives across the street at the Canadian Martyrs Parish and Student Centre. He was born and raised in Poland and arrived in Canada in August 2021.

Gregory has worked with students in a variety of settings. In 2015 he completed his doctorate in the Theology of Spirituality at the Catholic University of Lublin. His area of research focused on the life and legacy of Henri Nouwen, the Dutch/Canadian spiritual writer and speaker.

Gregory is interested in the honest spiritual search for meaning and God in the modern world. He is also trained in psychodrama and has had the opportunity to experience pastoral life in parish settings in England, the USA and Canada.

His hobbies include photography, film production and editing, modern film and social media.

Chanoch Rosenfeld

Rabbi Chanoch Rosenfeld

Director, Pastor of Beit Menachem Jewish Student Centre, Hamilton

Email: arabbi@chabadhamilton.com

Rabbi Chanoch Rosenfeld is was born and raised in Montreal, Québec. Having completed his formative studies there, he went on to study in Israel and the United States, receiving his Rabbinical Ordination from the Rabbinical College of America in 2005. During his training, he led children’s Jewish educational programs in Montreal, spent a year as a teacher and mentor for underprivileged Jewish teenagers in Moscow and led Jewish holiday programming in Angola and Namibia as part of Roving Rabbis program by Chabad Lubavitch International. After teaching in a Jewish day school in Florida, he joined Chabad Lubavitch of Hamilton in 2007. For the past 14 years, he has run the Beit Menachem Jewish Student Centre together with his wife, Shaina, serving the religious and spiritual needs of the Jewish students at McMaster and in Hamilton.

Ben Shefter

Rabbi Ben Shefter

Senior Director and Senior Jewish Educator, McMaster Hillel

Email: rabbiben@hillelontario.org

Rabbi Ben Shefter is the Senior Jewish educator with McMaster Hillel. Ben was ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a modern orthodox rabbinical school in New York. He loves engaging in interfaith and interdenominational conversations and outdoor adventures, and engineering new opportunities. With experience as a former hospital chaplain, Ben is always available to discuss the good, the bad and the difficult moments of life.

Marlice Simon

Marlice Simon

Interim Ecumenical Chaplain (until January 2025), McMaster Black Student Success Centre Spiritual Mentor

Email: msimon@mcmaster.ca

Marlice is an experienced Youth Leader and Lay Preacher who live with vibrancy and firmly believe that for us to be spiritually grounded and give counsel, we must first see the humanity in ourselves and everyone. She is a Certified Fitness Instructor who loves dancing, a long-standing employee of McMaster and a graduate certificate student at McMaster Divinity College, majoring in Spiritual Care and Counselling. 

 She founded TheMarliceTrain Health and Wellness coaching hub, focusing on women’s holistic health and well-being through fitness and spirituality.  

 Marlice has dedicated her life to empowering individuals to stand authentically in their purpose. She has worked tirelessly as a youth ambassador and Lay Preacher in Guyana, South America, and the Caribbean advocating for human rights. Her advocacy continued here in Canada through her work with her church and many groups here on campus.