Information Bulletin 79

June 2006

{slide=Introduction} Dear Brothers in Ministry
Many of us have faced the prospect of having another parish added to what we already have. For some, it’s invigorating. For others, forget it. In dioceses such as Tasmania, Townsville, Wilcannia-Forbes and others amalgamation is not realistic because of distance.
Any talk of a ‘shortage’ of priests doesn’t sit comfortably with some. Perhaps this is because of the belief that there are other ways of dealing with the decline. Perhaps, the fear of a self-fulfilling prophesy. Perhaps because of the belief that ultimately ‘the Lord will provide’; whatever ….
While our bishops have great difficulty dealing with deployment demands facing them today, one of their number has 22 parishes with only 5 priests. This is the story facing the Army division of the Military Diocese and its Bishop, Max Davis. Numbers in the Navy and Air Force are little better. This clearly is shortage!
An added problem--in addition to shortage--is the resulting erosion of its Sacramental life along with the growing belief that any chaplain of any religion will do. Try telling that to front-line Catholic soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan wanting particularly penance or anointing.
Here is something of their story; also a few reflections on Easter & Anzac Day in Iraq. Feel like a stint in the Military? If under 50 don’t be shy, talk to Bishop Max!
With personal best wishes

Frank Devoy, Executive Officer
{/slide} {slide=From Bishop Max Davis}

MESSAGE FROM BISHOP MAX DAVIS, MILITARY BISHOP

I am grateful to Fr Frank and the National Commission for providing this opportunity to urge your prayers and practical support for my Diocese.
Your prayers are indispensable, but so too is your priestly presence in many corners of the Military Diocese where the Defence Force Catholic community longs for the Sacraments of the Church. The figures enclosed tell their own story quite dramatically.
In short, the Military Diocese seeks a special kind of generosity from priests across the country. I realise that most dioceses also face dramatic shortages. However, there may well be a context in which some of you would enjoy the unique opportunity to serve as a Chaplain/officer and your bishop is willing to release you for a period of time. Our Defence Force is being deployed in front line action today more than ever and needs Chaplains. Please take the trouble to inquire.
+ Max Davis, Military Ordinary

POPE BENEDICT XVI - ON MILITARY WORLD DAY OF PEACE 2006

“I [cannot] fail to mention the many soldiers engaged in the delicate work of resolving conflicts and restoring the necessary conditions for peace. I wish to remind them of the words of the Second Vatican Council:
"All those who enter the military in service to their country should look upon themselves as guardians of the security and freedom of their fellow-countrymen, and, in carrying out this duty properly, they too contribute to the establishment of peace' (Gaudium et Spes, no. 79).
“On this demanding front the Catholic Church's military ordinariates carry out their pastoral activity: I encourage both the military Ordinaries and military chaplains to be, in every situation and context, faithful heralds of the truth of peace.” (No. 8)
{/slide} {slide=Army Chaplains}

ARMY CHAPLAINS CELEBRATING EASTER AND ANZAC DAY IN IRAQ

This Easter I visited some of our troops in Iraq where, even though they don’t have a priest with them, they are still part of our Australian Catholic Church. Through the ceremonies I tried to link them to the rest of the Church through celebrat-ing the same Easter Mysteries, even though we did so in our own unique way.
To wash the feet of these men and women was, for me, a moment of re-committing myself to serve those who are serving their country in the presence of danger. To hold up in the darkness the newly lit Paschal Candle and proclaim “Light of Christ” was a powerful reminder that our work for peace amongst a troubled people must be founded on our commitment to the risen Christ.
Attendance was small, but several of them said how wonderful it was to have had the chance to celebrate Mass and the Easter ceremonies according to their Catholic tradition while they were deployed.
Fr Martin Langron, Army Chaplain, Victoria Barracks, Sydney

I have been an Army Reserve Chaplain for 23 years. I was given the opportunity to go to the Middle East to lead the ANZAC Day Service for the Australian Defence Force Members.
What was the best part of the trip? It was the defence people I met, to listen to their story and to be a support in their concerns and worries. Everyone saw me as a pastor, a priest for them. They enjoyed the unique opportunity of having a Catholic Chaplain around the place.
It was only a short trip but my priestly ministry was enriched by being part of people’s spiritual journey. Ministry as a Catholic Army Chaplain is great as you are connected to the soldiers in a very real way and are very much part of what they do.
My brief time as a fulltime chaplain has renewed my commitment to be there for people in their hopes and disappointments, their sorrows and joys and to know God loves them.
Fr Michael Morrissey, Army Reserve Chaplain, Geraldton, WA
{/slide} {slide=Catholic Chaplains in East Timor}

CATHOLIC CHAPLAINS ON DEPLOYMENT IN DILI, EAST TIMOR

As this newsletter goes to print, two priests in the Army (Frs Glynn Murphy, Enoggera, and Matthew Donnelly, Townsville) and Air Force Deacon, Jim Curtain (RAAF, Amberley), are deploying into Timor Leste with the ADF contingent.
Consequently, we have to find two priests who are able to celebrate Sunday Mass in those two ADF Parishes for the Military people who remain. Getting supplies in very difficult, as you would imagine.
We pray for those who are deployed and those who remain supporting them.
Fr Greg Flynn, EV, Principal Chaplain (RC) Army, Campbell. ACT

{/slide} {slide=ADF Statistics}

THE BARE STATISTICS - THE DRAMATIC STORY THEY TELL

FULL TIME ADF PARISHES

Service

Number of. Parishes

Number Filled

Number Vacant

Army

22

5

17

Navy

7

3

4

Air Force

7

5

2

Tri-Service

2

0

2

TOTAL

38

13

25

 

PART TIME ADF PARISH PLACEMENTS

Service

Number of Parishes

Number Filled

Number Vacant

Army

20

8

12

Navy

9

4

5

Air Force

10

4

6

Tri-Service

2

0

2

TOTAL

41

16

25

{/slide} {slide=A tradition of faith - faithful to tradition}

FROM "A TRADITION OF FAITH, TO FAITHFUL TO TRADITION", BISHOP MAX DAVIS, 2004

Since Federation members of the Catholic Church have been rendered service in the Australian Defence Forces (ADF). … It is not a matter of convenience, but rather a matter of spiritual necessity, that Catholic members of the ADF be given every opportunity for access to the Sacraments of the Church wherever they may be serving but particularly and urgently in situations of physical and spiritual danger. From the Australian perspective this focus is a tradition of Catholic Chaplaincy that began before the landings at Gallipoli and has continued unbroken through every action and involvement ever since.
… This service has been encouraged, supported and enhanced by the ADF and the Church acting together to provide for their religious obligations and spiritual development in this unique environment. From the Church’s perspective, priests and deacons have been made available to provide those elements which are essential for this development and the provision of authentic pastoral care ….
The essential spiritual needs and pastoral care of Catholic members centres on access to the Sacra-ments and is most acute in the operational environ-ment. Closely aligned with this essential purpose is the pastoral care of those involved in direct operat-ional support and in training for operations ....
With deep sincerity Catholic Chaplains are committed to continue to work cooperatively with chaplains of other denominations in provision of general pastoral care for all personnel – with or without a claimed religions affiliation – to enhance the mission of the ADF. Catholic Chaplains, supported by their Church, will continue the long and valued tradition of providing the Sacraments and religious ministry and pastoral care in the ADF as a priority.”
{/slide} {slide=Pope John Paul II to the Armed Forces}

POPE JOHN PAUL II TO THE ARMED FORCES, 6 MAY 1999, ITALY

Chaplains have played an irreplaceable
spiritual and human role,
sharing the life and problems of the Armed Forces
and offering everyone
the light of the Gospel and divine grace.
In this service, which is often humble and hidden,
there have been wonderful priests who have honoured
the Church and the Armed Forces ….
The providential efforts for sound renewal
spurred by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council …
found a ready welcome
among Christian military people,
creating a new awareness of the Church
and a renewed commitment
especially among the lay faithful. We have thus
passed from a "Church service" offered to the Armed Forces,
to a "Church of service" assembled among those in the military world
who are called to exercise their baptismal priesthood by working for peaceful harmony
among men and women, in union with those who by the sacrifice of their lives have given the supreme witness of love.
With the Apostolic Constitution
Spirituali militum curae of 1986,
I wished to encourage this promising development by
structuring the Military Ordinariate Church as a particular, territorial and personal Church,
whose very name expresses its theological nature,
its organizational structure and its specific features.
It is made up of baptized military personnel,
their families and relatives,
as well as their domestic staffs,
and those who by law are employed in the service of the Armed Forces or are associated with them.
{/slide}
  • Created: 01 June 2006
  • Modified: 25 April 2009