Telling Chaplain’s stories allows us to share with others the purpose and value being Chaplain brings to others and the Chaplain’s themselves.
They provide a window into who Defence Anglican Chaplains are, where they came from and their motivation to serving the members of the Australian Defence Force.
Hear from the Chaplains
Royal Australian Navy Chaplain
I love being at sea; I always have. I first joined the Navy at 17, straight out of high school. I served for seven years, gaining my qualification as a Maritime Warfare Officer, then left to start a family.
I never imagined that I’d be lucky enough to be able to join the Navy twice, but in the call to Navy Chaplaincy, everything else in my life makes sense and comes full circle.
In my role, no two days at sea are alike. Every person in the ship has a story, and I am privileged to have them share these with me as we do life together.
Whether I am talking with the watch-keepers on the Bridge or in the Operations Room, visiting the people who operate our helicopters and amphibious vessels, or helping out the chefs as they serve a meal or the medics as part of the Ship’s Medical Emergency Team, my ministry is endlessly interesting.
Living in a ship at sea resonates closely with Christian life in two significant ways. First, there is the community.
Everyone is here to serve, whether they see that in their working alongside each other towards a common goal, or in a greater ideal of serving their country and protecting their families.
Everyone both cares for each other and depends upon each other. Secondly, there is the sea itself. Living out here, between the water and the sky, is a constant reminder of the vastness of the all-encompassing love of God.
While the sea and sky are ever-changing, the water influencing and responding to changes in the weather, they are also as constant as the love of God. I am never as still in the presence of God as I am when I contemplate the wind and the waves. I am daily grateful that God has called me to this ministry.
Royal Australian Air Force Chaplain
La’Mont Ferreira recalls that feeling of excitement about starting a new ministry, mixed with some sadness about leaving family and friends.
“It’s certainly been an interesting mix,” he said. “Throw COVID in there, and also our first baby, and you’re talking about a whole new level of crazy.
Ministry in Defence has been really great, but also a bit of a rollercoaster – so I guess you could say it’s been a real rollercoaster.”
“The difficult part of all of it was starting a new family and moving to a new place nor myself new anyone, and you too COVID restrictions, couldn’t draw or support of a church community or our families.”
Fortunately, the chap on team at Williamstown provide some great support for La’Mont, Kirsty and their healthy baby boy, Eli.
“I was able to utilise Defence’s very generous parental leave period, which was a huge help in figuring out how to keep a little, helpless person alive and thriving”, he said.
“It’s been hard work both at home and at work, that guy has been good in blessing me with the ability to excel is dead I do check one on a busy Base.
Our wonderful God has not only made us, but continues to sustain us daily, and for that I am eternally grateful.”
Royal Australian Navy Chaplain
The Game Played in Heaven
Strangely, starting my chaplaincy journey in Navy has felt like a home coming. This year has seen me running chapel services, baptisms, memorial services, conducting resilience training, providing pastoral care and picking up as many sea rides as my COORD will allow.
A highlight for me this year was supporting the Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union (RANRU) as the RANRU’s ‘Rugby Chaplain’. When CAPT Terry Morrison, Director of Navy Rugby was asked about my appointment he shared,
“The truth be told, CHAP Galvin has only been in the Navy for half a Dog watch since transferring across from Army earlier this year. Even though he and I grew up in Penrith NSW, the heartland of Rugby League, we saw the light and switched codes to the game Played in Heaven. CHAP Galvin is now a fully-fledged Navy Chaplain, dedicated to help support Navy during the ADFRU Championships.”
It was a privilege to provide the players, coaches and management staff with welfare and morale support during the championships. This opportunity allowed me to build relationships with the squad as I held hit shields, packed up after training, ran water on game day and I even had an opportunity to dust off my boots and play with the ‘Old Salts’.
And it was in-between the blood, sweat and tears of preparing for a rugby tournament that I tried to demonstrate the value of Navy Chaplaincy. During the tournament a young sailor tragically passed away at HMAS Creswell who had a close personal connection with a number of players and it was in this context that I provided pastoral care and support.
It is a privilege and joy to walk alongside those who serve our country in the RAN, prayerfully looking for opportunities to share my life sacrificial and speak the gospel faithfully (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
Brad is married to Neroli and they have 5 children: Tianna (19), Abeni (17), Kaiya (15), Caleb (11) and Liam (11). Since the early 2000s Brad has served in parish ministry, school chaplaincy, theological education in Tanzania, and part-time Chaplaincy in the Army.
Royal Australian Air Force Chaplain
I love the sound of rain on metal roof. But that night in January, the ping, ping, ping seemed to go on a bit too long.
I wonder that sounded strangely layout, like flying rocks, only in certain spots. I got up and was confronted by wall flames outside our falling family room window. It wasn’t rain; I’m over at the window shouted, “Get out of your house!”
Adrenalin and I ran around, waking my children. It was soon obvious the house itself wasn’t on fire, and I had time to gather some precious things. But I froze; I couldn’t think of a single thing I want to take. A purse caught my eye; I also remember that people are supposed to take photos. As fine and say their house, we set on the curb “Ah ha you got the photos.”
I heard many similar stories from people calling bushfires, unable to think what they want to take. Very cool that moment of indecision, when times stopped. I guess it comes unconscious overwhelming the conscious, forcing us to drop everything and run.
As a person of faith, I hate to see my own response is less primal and more divinely inspired. Facing the prospect that most will be lost, and choosing from among many things, our treasures are revealed to be temporary; things that moth and rust, and flames, destroys. Then again, I wonder that when we grieve our loss positions, it’s not so much the thing – the photos or the house – but the memories that go with them.
Attach to the things are memories of people and relationships, no longer physically present, in the photographs, things and places we associate with them.
In his teaching to the disciples, Jesus tells us not to worry about the things we wear, or what we eat, or the things we own, to trust only in God, for where your treasures is, your heart will be also.
While these might not be an appropriate pastoral offering to someone who has lost all they own, I understand this: when a heart is with God, our treasure is revealed in a different light.
Australian Army Chaplain
“Army chaplaincy is, for me, a story of presence.
When my soldiers sweat through a hard PT session, I want to be right beside them – not just cheering from the sidelines but doing the same exercises. I’ll never be as fit as they are- and they know it – but they’re ordered to start running, their chaplain will be jogging alongside.
When the day is dragging and ‘Hurry up and wait’ is ringing in their ears- I want to be right in the thick of it, sharing their stories and living with them, even when boredom feels like the order of the day.
When my soldiers are roughing it on a field exercise – I want to be just as dusty and working just as hard.
Not because I need to have the best field craft or technical skills, but so they know that the chaplain will be there when it’s tough.
I don’t have to be anything except the chaplain – the padre who is present when the going is easy and when the going is rough.
What does that achieve?
It means when their lives get murky, when failure looms and the storms of life start to erode the future they had worked out, the chaplain isn’t parachuting in from an office somewhere – I’m already with them, walking their paths and pointing them toward hope.
Army chaplaincy is a story of presence- the presence of hope motivated by Christ, who willingly took on the life of a servant who walked with people, talked with people and ultimately died and rose for his people.
If that’s what Jesus did for me – how can I do anything less?”