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Army Air Force Navy

Chaplain

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

CAF chaplains are responsible for fostering the spiritual, religious, and pastoral care of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and their families, regardless of religious affiliation, practice, and/or belief.

CAF chaplains have privileged access to CAF members of all ranks, have no command authority, and are prohibited from bearing arms. Their responsibilities include:

  • Providing an active, personal, and supportive presence
  • Officiating at special functions, service, events, and ceremonies
  • Advising the Chain of Command regarding spiritual/religious accommodation issues, ethical dilemmas, as well as spiritual and moral issues pertaining to the Formation/Unit/Squadron
  • Applying knowledge in general military administration and RCChS policies.
  • Liaising with local area civilian Faith Tradition leaders
  • Referring CAF members and their families to other helping professionals, such as social workers, psychologists, or medical personnel, as required
  • Providing compassionate and caring support during, and following, significant life events and incidents

 

Work environment

CAF chaplains work in all military environments with members of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army (CA), the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and Canadian Special Operations Forces (CANSOF). CAF chaplains provide an active, personal and supportive presence, and offer spiritual and personal growth counselling, programmes, and events throughout the year. Public services and military ceremonies typically require the chaplain to participate and offer spiritual reflections. CAF chaplain can work in Canada, or may be required to go abroad during operations.

Career Overview

Transcript

TITLE:

CHAPLAIN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

CAPTAIN RYAN CARTER: I’m Captain Ryan Carter from Scarborough, Ontario, and I’m a Chaplain, currently serving at the Royal Military College of Canada.

Chaplains are spiritual leaders in the Canadian Armed Forces who support military personnel in their careers both at home and abroad. Chaplains care for and advise members of the Forces on spiritual expression that includes all types of world religions.

CARTER: Me, as a Muslim, I’m grounded in my faith tradition, I’m educated in my faith tradition, I’m part of my faith community. That’s my foundation. But certainly I work with people of all different backgrounds. And people seek our assistance for various reasons. Chaplains are advocates. We walk with people through their difficulties and their challenges. People trust us. We’re that impartial member of the military where people can seek support and assistance through. And that, I think, is the essence of what Chaplains do.

This can include supporting families and their loved ones, offering counselling services, and helping members with their spiritual needs. They serve on bases across Canada, and in deployed theatres of operation like humanitarian missions or antiterrorism operations.

Chaplains may also work with civilian religious faith groups in the course of their duties.

CARTER: I think that’s what I love the most about my job is every day is different. It’s very dynamic. A day could consist of me doing physical training with the troops, serving food, and just interacting with the members on the ground. Or it could be me performing religious services, doing a parade. And one of the things I love doing is connecting with the chain of command to inform them of the pulse, the morale of the unit and see how things are going. And I think that’s a function which is central to what I do – is to make sure everyone is doing OK.

Chaplains typically begin their ministries as a unit chaplain with the Navy, Army or Air Force for the first three to four years of service.

CARTER: A big part of what we do is what we call ministry of presence. Chaplains have to be present in all aspects of the unit life. Which could mean having a coffee with the members, you know, see how things are going, having lunch with them. A big part of understanding military life is simply: walk with the troops. And at the core of what we do, that ministry of presence is what makes us unique as a military occupation.

Chaplains are highly skilled in active listening and have a sense of adventure.

They have an open attitude and promote diversity within the Canadian Armed Forces by providing an environment that is caring and compassionate.

CARTER: Some of us are clinical chaplains – mental health chaplains who work in the clinic alongside the mental health workers. We have other chaplains that specialize in conflict. Other chaplains that specialize in pluralism and in ethics. So there are many options available later on in your career where you can specialize in these unique areas of ministry and advocacy.

CARTER: When I look around myself, I see myself in position where I can respond to where I see the gaps – things that are missing. Part of it is education. We all need to learn about difference, we all need to learn about diversity, and we all need to learn about each other. And one of the greatest joys I participated in is to set up and to establish educational opportunities for members here at my unit. To set up opportunities, to experience other religions, other cultures. And I think this has been one of the greatest joys of my career is to have this opportunity where I can teach, where I can be part of the change, and advocate where advocacy is needed.

TITLE:
CHAPLAIN

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Faith Tradition Leader
  • Spiritual/Pastoral Counsellor
  • Hospital, School, University Chaplain

Training

After being posted, you will prepare for basic training by completing the 12 week intensive Basic Officer Military Qualification training programme at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons safe handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic Military Officer Qualification training is provided in English or French, and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

 

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Following the successful completion of Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ), chaplains will spend the next 12-18 months engaged in various online and in-person professional development courses. Courses include: Basic Occupation Qualification (BOQ), Intermediate Ethics, Chaplain Counselling Skills, Chaplain in Deployed Operations, Canadian Armed Forces Junior Officer Development (CAFJOD) programme, as well as any element-specific training requirements.

Entry plans

Chaplains must be ordained or mandated by a nationally registered Faith Tradition, and have a Graduate-level professional degree in Faith Tradition formation (MDiv or equivalent), be a member in good standing with a national Faith Tradition Governing Authority, and have at least two years of fulltime, supervised Faith Tradition leadership experience. They must also receive the recommendation of a representative of the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy (ICCMC), the endorsement of the ICCMC, and be selected by the Chaplain General.

If you already have a Graduate-level professional degree in Faith Tradition formation (MDiv or equivalent) and at least two years of fulltime, supervised Faith Tradition leadership experience, the CAF may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following Basic Military Officer Qualification training.

If you wish to become a Chaplain for the CAF, you can apply for the Subsidized Education for Entry Level Masters (SEELM) programme.

If you have an undergraduate degree in any discipline from a recognized Canadian university, and meet the required entry criteria, you may qualify to apply for the highly competitive Subsidized Education for Entry Level Masters (SEELM) entry option. If accepted, you will be enrolled in the CAF as an officer as you complete a Graduate-level professional degree in Faith Tradition formation (MDiv or equivalent) program at a Canadian university, and complete the required two years of post-credential, fulltime, supervised Faith Tradition leadership experience.

Successful applicants will receive a salary, medical and dental care, and paid annual vacation. In exchange, you must work for the CAF for a specified period of time. To apply, you must have been accepted without condition to a Graduate-level professional degree in Faith Tradition formation (MDiv or equivalent) at a Canadian university in a program recognized by the ICCMC and the CAF.

For more information about entry plans and becoming a Chaplain, you may send an e-mail to ChaplainMain-AumoneriePrincipale@forces.gc.ca.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at Reserve Unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they may volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

CAF chaplains work in all military environments with members of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. CAF chaplains provide an active, personal and supportive presence, and offer spiritual and personal growth counselling, programmes, and events to all members of the CAF, regardless of religious affiliation. Public services and military ceremonies typically require the chaplain to participate and offer spiritual reflections. When employed on a part-time or casual fulltime basis CAF chaplains usually serve at CAF bases, wings, home ports, and reserve units located in Canada.

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Basic training consists of two required components: Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ) training and Basic Occupational Qualification (BOQ) training. Additional courses may be available over the course of a Chaplain’s career.

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit on scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in fulltime positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a competitive benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.