Meet Dom Fay - Faith and Spirituality Coordinator | Coomera Anglican College

Meet Dom Fay - Faith and Spirituality Coordinator

Introducing Dom Fay, the Faith and Spirituality Coordinator at Coomera Anglican College and an avid Brisbane Lions fan.  With a belief that spirituality is deeply personal and diverse for each individual, Dom collaborates with teachers and staff to create a supportive and inclusive environment for students of all religious and spiritual backgrounds.

When Dom is not working in the Faith and Spirituality space at the College, he can be found in our recording studio, interviewing guests for the College podcast “The CAC-cast.”  We decided to take the opportunity to switch places with Dom and ask him a few questions about his career and life at Coomera Anglican College.

In what ways do you collaborate with teachers and staff to create a supportive and inclusive environment for students of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds? 

Something that is key to my approach to the role is a belief that everybody has their own sense and experience of the spiritual dimension of life. Regardless of the varied backgrounds or beliefs we each bring to the table, we are all swimming through this profound, sacred mystery together. Starting from a place of open-mindedness and curiosity about the human experience that connects us all seems to me to be the only real way to honour the richness and diversity of this life.   

One of my favourite things about our Anglican tradition is the way it is passionate about not only welcoming but enthusiastically embracing diversity. This is animated by the belief that the divine mystery we call God is not a gift limited for just a few who think or live in the right way, but is in fact the very ground of reality itself and something we are all experiencing and held by in each and every moment of our lives - no matter how we might (or might not) label it.  

This leads me to spend less of my time worrying about changing or correcting belief in any heavy-handed way (as religious traditions have made a habit out of in the past), and much more time celebrating the sacred mystery that is life in our community through the sharing of stories, experiences of awe & wonder, and moments of joy, vulnerability, depth, and fun.  

It seems to me that we are closest to the one we call God in the most deeply human moments we have. Because of this, my focus is on trying to create space for those human moments of connection, belonging, and authenticity to emerge in the middle of the often-heavy demands of daily life.  

Practically, it means I try to ask more questions rather than stating beliefs (as we're all connected on the questions we ask - it is the answers we end up at where we find division), create more experiences rather than distributing information, and tell more stories rather than sharing opinions.  
How do you incorporate Christian teachings and principles into the academic curriculum and extracurricular activities to promote a holistic approach to education and personal growth? 

There are many different people who could give many different answers as to what core Christian teachings and principles are, but I like to come back to the writings of Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians when reflecting on what the foundations are, when he writes "and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).  

To me, faith is a deep sense that this whole thing is sacred, enchanted, and held by the most immense, unconditional love - fundamentally, a deep knowing that the whole thing is much, much bigger than just the sum of its parts.  

Hope, I think, is a deep trust in what Martin Luther King Jr. described as 'the arc of the moral universe' - that despite the pain, loss, suffering, and uncertainty of this life, all the rivers of this life are flowing in one direction - towards the vast ocean of love that holds everything.  

As for love - well, an adequate definition of love is probably impossible. Whatever it is, it seems to be all that is deeply good about life - that which forgives, that which cares, that which listens, that which bonds, that which opens up, and that which animates the whole thing in a wonder-filled, enchanted way.  

In this sense, the words students and staff probably hear more from me than any others are "you already had all the worth you'll ever have the day you were born".  

So much of what we do in this world seems to be oriented in one way or another around a need to achieve more worth, value, and success - so in terms of a holistic approach to development, formation and growth, I think the whole journey has to start with the affirmation that we see all through Genesis that "it is good, it is good, it is good" - all of it, always, from the very beginning and unconditionally.  

This is less 'teaching' and more 'reminding', as all good spirituality probably should be - speaking to that deep knowing in each of us which has always known what is true, but just seems to lose sight of it throughout the stresses, pressures, and complexities of this life.   

Fundamentally, what I do at the College then - whether at student worships, in year 12 Life & Faith sessions, on group trips, or in any other context, is return to these core truths of life being a gift, of this whole thing being enchanted, and of faith, hope & love being the very centre of everything.  
If you could have a conversation with any religious or spiritual figure from history, who would it be, and what burning question would you ask them? 
There are a number of figures who have influenced me profoundly - many of whom are still alive today, like Barbara Brown Taylor, Richard Rohr, Mary Oliver, Peter Rollins, Rob Bell, and Alexander John Shaia. 

In terms of historical figures, though, I think Thomas Merton would probably be the one I would most love to meet. I have a number of his quotes up on the walls of the Chaplaincy office, with my favourite being his reflections on standing in a busy shopping district of Kentucky when he was struck by the realisation of the sacredness of all of life, and wrote of his awareness that everybody around him was "shining like the sun". It's such a beautiful affirmation of the goodness of life itself - a goodness so immense that we can rarely even come close to comprehending it. 

As for the question I'd ask him - I think I'd need six months of mulling it over to be sure I'd settled on the right one! It would probably, though, be something along the lines of "where do you think this whole thing is going?" From a spiritual & religious viewpoint, it is undeniable (at least, in the West) that we are in a time of great change. Fewer and fewer people are affiliating with the major religious traditions, and yet I do not think the hunger for depth, meaning, and the sacred dimension of life has gone anywhere. In fact, I think it might actually be stronger than ever.   

So I would love to hear Merton's thoughts on what might emerge out of this space in the decades and centuries ahead - because if there is one thing I do feel quite sure of, it's that something definitely will. Another line I often say at the College is that 'this isn't a reality of endings, it's a reality of transformation' - so to have his perspective on what this all might be transforming into would be fascinating!   
Who has been the most interesting guest you have interviewed for one of your podcasts and why? 

I've been phenomenally lucky to have so many fascinating conversations with so many brilliant people across the various podcasts I do.  

At the College, I host the CAC-Cast and have shared conversations with a number of our College community about their stories, their passions, and their love of our CAC family. Earlier this year, I spent an hour in conversation with our new Principal, Patrick Innes-Hill, in a conversation that spanned spirituality, travel, education, music, poetry, and much more. That was a real highlight.  

One of my other endeavours is a faith & spirituality podcast, entitled On The Way, based out of St John's Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane. I host this alongside two Anglican ministers, and we have been profoundly lucky to share conversations with some of the world's most game-changing thinkers, writers, and workers in this space, including a few I mentioned before on my list of heroes. 

Speaking to philosopher Peter Rollins about the mystery of desire, author Barbara Brown Taylor about navigating the periods of darkness in life, spiritual teacher Rob Bell about the spiritual heartbeat of all of reality, and anthropologist & spiritual director Alexander John Shaia about the fourfold path we are all walking on all through our lives (moving from times of change, through times of suffering, stepping into times of joy, and maturing into times of service) are a few that particularly stand out.  

I also host a podcast covering all things Brisbane Lions (I'm a diehard AFL fan!) with an AFL journalist. We had Brisbane Lions triple-premiership coach Leigh Matthews drop by my garage to record an episode in our very shabby studios a little while ago - that was a big highlight!