Seniors go back to school: Through TWU's Senior Focus Program seniors experience university life

Langley, British Columbia—Senior citizens from Catholic congregations throughout the Lower Mainland recently made their way back to school. But instead of sitting in classrooms, the seniors, from parishes including St. Mary’s in Chilliwack, Precious Blood in Surrey and All Saints in Coquitlam, caught the full university experience as they toured Trinity Western University. As a part of TWU’s Senior Focus Program, the seniors visited with students, attended TWU’s daily chapel service and ate lunch in the cafeteria during their half-day visit to campus.

“The Catholic community was a great supporter of Trinity Western during our teacher education legal challenge,” says Inga Warnock, TWU’s Senior Focus Coordinator. “They’re interested in seeing what we’re about. For several, this was their first time on campus.”

TWU’s Senior Focus program began four years ago with the vision to create awareness of TWU and encourage B.C.’s senior population to become involved in the lives of students. It has become a popular event for the over 60 crowd, with more than 400 touring TWU this past year.

“Seniors are a great resource for students,” says Warnock. “They have a wealth of knowledge about diverse professions and can use their life experiences to mentor our young people who are just starting out in life’s journey.”

TWU graduate Jennifer Hamel was especially excited about the most recent group of Catholic seniors to tour the University. Hamel, who works as one of six interns in TWU’s President’s Office, helped host the event which was attended by her grandparents, Yvonne and Lou Hamel, from St. Mary’s in Chilliwack, and her great aunt, Blanche Nicholson, also from St. Mary’s.

“People such as my grandparents, who tour Trinity Western, see that they can contribute in ways that they never thought of before—by volunteering and through prayer support,” says Hamel.

“Knowing that there are Catholic Parishes throughout the Lower Mainland who have experienced life here at Trinity Western, and that there are people from all of these parishes praying for us is a huge support,” continues Hamel, who graduated from TWU with a Bachelor of Arts in history and a minor in English.

While this is the first year that Catholic Parishes have taken part in the Senior Focus program, it is a fit that both Warnock and Hamel feel is natural.

“The mix of seniors that come through our Senior Focus Program represents the mix of students we have here on campus--students from all different backgrounds,” says Warnock.

And just on the outskirts of TWU’s campus is Redeemer Pacific College, a Catholic college which was founded and continues to be led by executive director Tom Hamel, Jennifer’s father. Through cooperation with Redeemer Pacific, Catholic students at TWU can earn a degree from TWU while benefiting from the Catholic distinctives taught at RPC.

“Trinity Western is a great, intellectual environment for dialogue about faith which really helped me become renewed in being Catholic,” says Jennifer. “I’ve had a lot of people here at Trinity Western model vibrant, growing relationships with Jesus.”

Earlier this year, senior citizens from Saint Francis de Sales in Burnaby and Saint Nicholas in Langley visited Trinity Western University through the Senior Focus Program. And Warnock looks forward to welcoming many more.

For more information on TWU’s Senior Focus Program, contact Darlene Heriot at 604-513-2033 ext. 3370.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,000 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-09-26