Commonwealth Chaplains Unite to Strengthen Services

When the Canadian Navy received a call from the Australian Defence Force inviting serving Chaplains to join RAAF Chaplaincy in 2009, local Lemon Tree Passage Chaplain Stèphane Sarazin leapt at the opportunity to share his knowledge and experience with a foreign Defence Force.

A Roman Catholic Military Diocese of Canada Chaplain on ‘loan’ to Australia, Wing Commander Sarazin was inspired to accept the exchange when he met Chaplain (Air Commodore) Peter O’Keefe, who was sailing with the Canadian Military on HMCS Halifax in the Persian Gulf, back in 2002.

“I am the Senior Co-ordinating Chaplain, whereby I’m responsible for the co-ordination of ongoing ministry for RAAF Bases Williamtown, Darwin, Tindal, Edinburgh, Woomera and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Basic Flying Training School near Tamworth,” Chaplain Stèphane explains.

“In essence, I lead, develop, mentor and train individual Chaplains and Chaplaincy teams driven by the Air Force Headquarters’ vision.

“Since my arrival in Australia, the RAAF Base Williamtown Chaplaincy Centre has become the first ADF body to join the ACON Safe Place Program.

“Under my leadership, the Chaplaincy team at No. 26 Squadron has made a commitment to provide a safe haven for all members of the ADF, to oppose discrimination and to speak up against prejudice,” Chaplain Stèphane proudly states.

“Consistent with Air Force values, this initiative will support members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.”

As a leader of the RAAF Chaplains, Wing Commander Sarazin proudly represents the Chaplain Branch with a strong focus on the key values - Presence, Participation and Proclamation.

Chaplain Stèphane’s diverse and impressive career has provided him the opportunity of meeting some interesting and inspirational people; ordinary down to earth people doing extraordinary things.

“Not just in the military but in the wider community, people who contribute to society in their own spheres,” said Chaplain Stèphane.

Chaplain Stèphane’s formative academic development, grounded in Catholic Theology at the Grand Sèminaire of Montrèal (Canada) campus of the Pontifical Lateran University (Rome), includes a postgraduate in Canon Law and Social Sciences (politics) from a number of institutions.  He has also attained Air Force-related leadership training, commencing with Basic Chaplain Officers Training School in Borden Ontario (Canada) and the equivalent to OTS at St-Jean Military College in Quèbec.

Chaplain Stèphane’s colourful and celebrated career has taken him to the North Pole for a 24-day visit in the most northerly inhabited settlement on the globe, to his first crossing of the Red Sea Canal with HMCS Halifax to start a patrol in the Arabian Sea for several months.

“It has been a privilege to serve as a Military Chaplain across many countries for nearly 20 years; I have received an Australian Defence Medal and Canadian Medals SWASM (Afghanistan), SSM (Navy Deployment) and CD (12 years of Service) for my commitment,” Chaplain Stèphane reflects.

The Canadian Chaplain is thoroughly enjoying his time ‘down under’. He spends his holidays exploring various regions of Australia, while his home time is for working on his vehicles (Ranger and Toyota GTS86) and hanging out with his dog Napoleon.  

“Air Force Chaplains are ministers and pastors who are immersed in a dynamic community, living the same sort of lifestyle as other Air Force personnel and their families,” expresses Chaplain Stèphane.

“They share in the ups and downs of people’s lives and sometimes Air Force ministry means sharing our faith. Most clearly, a Chaplain is a visible God person.”

For over 75 years, the RAAF has engaged clergy in both the Permanent and Specialist Reserve of the Air Force. Known as Chaplains, these clergy have served Air Force personnel and their families in both tragic and joyous times, in both times of conflict and peace. They were the early providers of spiritual, religious and pastoral care support to the Air Force.

Follow mnnews.today on Twitter and Instagram.

Stèphane Sarazin Image
Stèphane Sarazin

A Roman Catholic Military Diocese of Canada Chaplain on ‘loan’ to Australia, Wing Commander Sarazin is the Senior Coordinating Chaplain responsible for the coordination of ongoing ministry for RAAF Bases Williamtown, Darwin, Tindal, Edinburgh, Woomera and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Basic Flying Training School near Tamworth.

comments powered by Disqus