An opportunity to meet Luke Hawkins, who has just taken up the joint post of Diocesan Youth Officer (Meath & Kildare) and Chaplain of Wilson’s Hospital School.
- When did you arrive in Ireland and did Covid – 19 make the journey more complicated?
My wife Esther and I arrived on the 31st of July, and we had to spend 2 weeks in lockdown which made seeing the surrounding countryside and getting to know people difficult. At least we had time to unpack everything!
- Can you tell us a bit about life before taking up this post – what where you doing and where were you living?
For the last seven years I have lived in Dingle, an inner-city area of Liverpool in the UK (not the one in Kerry). For that time, I was a secondary school History teacher, but I also had responsibility for mentoring and supporting the top 10% of students aged 14-18. Alongside that I was an active member in Christian youth work at my Church, and in national youth camps.
- What does a diocesan youth officer and a school chaplain do?
I am learning more about this answer every day! At present my job as Chaplain at Wilson’s Hospital involves establishing and running chapel services, supporting students as they start back, and I am also teaching some Religious Studies lessons. As youth officer, I hope my role will eventually include supporting confirmations, youth groups and Sunday schools across the diocese, but at present I am meeting clergy to assess the need of parishes.
- What inspired you to want to do this job?
I have always had a passion for education, youth work and serving the Church. More recently I have felt a call to more full-time ministry. In December 2019 I was considering my future and prayed for God to help me decide whether it was time to move jobs, or even countries. Within a week this job was advertised!
- What do you think your first six months in the job will look like, even in the middle of a pandemic?
I really hope to get a sense of the people at Wilson’s and the wider diocese to allow me to better serve and support them. To that end I am having a lot of first meetings with people, including Youth for Christ and the Church of Ireland Youth Department, to assess that need. By Christmas I hope to have a good weekly program at Wilson’s and, Covid permitting, start visiting schools and churches across the diocese.
- Can you tell us a little about your own faith journey – any significant moments in it (highs / lows / in between)?
I was brought up in a Methodist Chapel in North Derbyshire in England, it is a small a very close-knit ex-mining community. Every member of my family went to Chapel and so I assumed that made me a Christian by culture and association. When I was 19 I was teaching English in Malawi before starting University. It was there that I realised that Christianity is a way of faith and service, not simply culture or by birth, and I needed to actively put my faith in Jesus. From there I went to a strong Anglican Church at University and never looked back. My move to Liverpool after graduation was motivated by my faith in Christ and the resultant desire to serve him.
- Who inspires you most in life – and why?
Tough question. As a History student many Christians have inspired me, but Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have to be up there. What he went through for the sake of the gospel, and never shirked his responsibility or dodged the consequences has really showed me the cost of being a Christian, and the fact that it is insignificant in the eternal grand scheme of things.
- What do you do for fun?
Having recently moved to the countryside I am finding my active side; I’ve started swimming and recently bought a bike! But my ‘go to’ is reading or going to the cinema. I also support Liverpool FC.
- When the Six Nations starts who will you be cheering for?
Ireland of course - my wife is Irish!