who, legend states, gave half his cloak to a beggar.
Following his death Martin’s cloak became a relic
carried into battle. Priests who guarded the cloak
became known as capellini or chaplains.
Chaplains have served with the Canadian military since the second Riel Rebellion in 1885, according to a Canadian Forces website. Modern
chaplaincy came into its own during the First
World War with 357 Protestant and 83 Roman
Catholic chaplains accompanying troops overseas.
When the Second World War broke out, the
Chaplains’ Branch realized there had been a lack
of Roman Catholic chaplains during the First
World War. This led to the institutionalization
of Protestant (Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian,
United and Baptist) and Roman Catholic branches to ensure the supply of priests met demand.
About 1,400 chaplains ended up serving with all
troops during that war.
Today the Chaplain General, a top two-year
position, alternates between the Protestant and
Roman Catholic branches.
he knew his presence at the deployment ceremony
made a difference.
The ministry of being present
For Canadian Forces chaplains across the country and
around the world – from Smith, commissioned last July,
to Lt.-Col. Pierre Bergeron, an evangelical chaplain since
1996 – the practice of the “ministry of presence” is the
chaplain’s greatest role.
The term “chaplain” comes from capella or cloak, specifically the cloak of the French bishop Martin of Tours
Evangelicals in a multifaith world
(CP PHOTO/BILL GRaveLanD)
Chaplains now serve in a multifaith environment.
Since 1986 they’ve trained to serve in and can be
posted to a naval, air force or land forces unit.
Roman Catholic chaplains take care of Roman
and Orthodox members. Protestant chaplains
minister to everyone else. In the mid-1990s the
Protestant branch added a subcategory – “
Evangelical” – and Steve Merriman, a Free Methodist
minister, was the first in 1995.
Potential chaplains go through the same recruitment process as any other soldier with one additional step: endorsement by the Interfaith Committee on
Canadian Military Chaplaincy (ICCMC), a group of
civilian clergy including a rabbi and an imam.
This chaplaincy committee is currently headed
for the first time by a representative from the “
Evangelical” category, Stewart Hunter. (He also serves as the
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s international missions representative for eastern Canada.)
The committee’s role is to review the application
paperwork to make sure each potential chaplain meets
requirements, Hunter explains. Beyond the usual recruitment requirements, chaplains have to be ordained; hold
at least a Master of Divinity degree from a seminary accredited by the Association of Theological Schools; and
have the support of their ecclesiastical authority.