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The 17 Wing Chaplain and the Royal Military Institute of Manitoba

 by Padre Paul Gemmiti


Recently, in January 2024, I had the opportunity to make a presentation and have a friendly conversation with a lively group of members from the Royal Military Institute of Manitoba.

 

(Do check into their online website at RMIM.ca, for more info about the Institute.)

 


The topic was a cordial overview of various aspects that had changed during my twenty years as a chaplain while in the Canadian Armed Forces.  My history includes postings at Cold Lake, Shearwater, and Winnipeg, plus one deployment with Op Mobile to serve those Canadians in Italy during 2011.  Religious and cultural backgrounds, experience and current training expectations, posting preference patterns, and situational episodes were all within the gamut to be discussed.  The RMIM members, themselves former CAF retirees or spouses of such, shared some of their own personal memories about chaplains who had been part of their past.  As well, there was some speculation as to what may be the gradual way forward for practical, spiritual, and morale support in this modern Canadian society and its current CAF.

 

The recent grappling of policy in regard to public prayer by a CAF chaplain, the continuing struggle to maintain and recruit chaplains, as well as the more recent concern of including a gender spectrum approach, all kept the evening folk attentive and in civil good humour.  We only had a chance for a light discussion of the intended diversity of gaining chaplains from non-European, non-Christian, and humanist perspectives.

 

At the end of our time together I was presented with an RMIM Coffee Mug, and a book that had been written about the Cameron Highlander Regiment... NOT the Royal Canadian Chaplaincy Service.  (If you look at the accompanying photo, you will see that the title of their book had been derived from an expression granted by combattants of past campaigns, and is not a current slight reference to the Regiment.)

 

As I presently aim to conclude my 10 years of serving here at 17 Wing Winnipeg - as a front line chaplain of 8 years and 2 years as its Senior chaplain - it was a pleasure to have shared my viewpoint and experience to at least some locals who appreciate CAF history and the military service of CAF chaplains here in Manitoba.

 

 

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