You gotta have faith: Carleton University chaplain honoured with Interfaith Award

On Sunday, April 19, Interfaith Ottawa and the City of Ottawa will present Carleton Ecumenical Chaplain Tom Sherwood with an Interfaith Award. The presentation will take place at 8 p.m. in the council chambers.

Abdul Rashid, co-chair of Interfaith Ottawa, says: “Tom Sherwood has an enviable record of service over many years, dedicated to promoting interfaith dialogue, respect and understanding among persons and groups of all faiths.”

Sherwood, who has served as Carleton’s chaplain since 1999, will be leaving the post on June 30. After a short sabbatical, he will return to Carleton to teach in the College of the Humanities and the department of sociology and anthropology.

“Tom Sherwood’s tireless dedication to the Carleton community and especially students is an inspiration to all involved,” says Suzanne Blanchard, associate vice-president (student support services). “He always takes the time to listen and offer a helping hand.”

Sherwood co-founded the Jewish-Christian Dialogue in Ottawa over 25 years ago and co-chaired it for many years. He helped establish the first Christian-Muslim Dialogue nearly 20 years ago and has chaired meetings of the Jewish-Christian-Muslim Try-alogue. He is also a founding member of Interfaith Ottawa.

As minister of Orléans United Church from 1984-99, and as Carleton’s chaplain, he animated interfaith and multifaith events in the community and on campus. This included bringing the Anne Frank exhibit to Ottawa in the 1990s and arranging some of the first Holocaust Memorial Day events in Ottawa, one of which was a major theatrical production at Centrepointe Theatre.

He brought Holocaust survivors, Rwanda genocide survivors, residential school survivors, religious leaders and other guest speakers to Carleton and has been a dedicated resource for all the faith-based, religious or spiritual groups and individuals on campus.

Carleton student Christina Anderson says: “Tom has been instrumental in my faith and personal development. Without someone to guide me through the life struggles that most 20-something university students face, I would not be where I am today and serving as a student representative on the Ecumenical Chaplaincy Board. Tom is a wonderful chaplain at Carleton who has done a lot a work in bridging people of different faiths and in connecting Carleton with the wider community. He will be sorely missed.”

“He is the most genuine person I have ever met, a true Mensch,” says Carleton graduate student Samuel Konig. “He is always there for the students and he will be truly missed. He will always have a special place in my heart.”

Sherwood has been a very positive presence at Carleton for many diversity issues including reaching out to Carleton’s GBLT community. He ran a very popular “Que(e)rying Religion” series in which he brought noted GLBT clergy and laypeople to Carleton. He and his wife, Lorena, have been regular participants in Interfaith services for GLBT people in Ottawa, providing both clergy and musical support to the Integrity chapter in Ottawa.

As an ordained United Church of Canada minister, Sherwood has also held positions at Toronto General, Ottawa Hospital and the University of Toronto. Since 1982, he has taught courses on anthropology of religion, sociology of religion and religion in Canada at Carleton and Saint Paul University. He has both an MA and PhD from Carleton.

Sherwood was a columnist on “religion and life” for the Ottawa Citizen in the 1980s and ’90s and a freelance writer of popular articles for many years. His academic publications include articles on “multiple religious belonging” and “religious diversity among new Canadians.”

Interfaith Ottawa was formed as a result of a memorandum of understanding between the City of Ottawa and faith leaders. It promotes harmony, respect and acceptance among all people in Ottawa and provides a unified voice against acts of intolerance and hatred.


For more information:
Tom Sherwood
Ecumenical Chaplain
Carleton University

Lin Moody
Media Relations
Carleton University
613-520-2600, ext. 8705