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Chaplain Branch

Chaplain Branch

Created: 2 May 1969

Preceded by: The Royal Canadian Army Chaplain Corps

Status on 1 Jan 2000: Active branch of Canadian Forces

The Chaplain Branch was created as a branch of the Canadian Forces as part of Unification.

Lineage

  • 2 May 1969: As part of Unification, created as a reorganization of Canadian military chaplains, including The Royal Canadian Army Chaplain Corps and equivalent services of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

History

From the Chaplain Branch website:

A partial integration of the three chaplain services took place in 1958, and Chaplains General (P) and (RC), with the rank of Brigadier General (or equivalent) were appointed. Under the Chaplains General were three Deputy Chaplains General, one each from the Navy, Army, and Air Force. In 1967, the Reorganization Act of the Armed Forces was proclaimed and became law. The three chaplain services, became the Chaplain Branches (P) and (RC). With the coming of integration chaplains (P) and (RC) no longer spent their entire careers within one element. They subsequently were required to serve in the sea, land, and air environments as the exigencies of the Canadian Forces necessitated and the two Chaplains General directed. New Chaplains Branch Badges (P and RC), both featuring the Maltese Cross were approved for official use. "Onward Christian Soldiers' became the official March Past of the Protestant Chaplaincy and over time eventually became the March Past that became associated with all chaplains (P and RC).

A peacetime role for chaplains was developed following the Second World War. On the one hand, chaplains had to be prepared and equipped to participate in operations in all three environments, while on the other hand, they were provided with chapels, offices, and secretaries to help them to minister more effectively and efficiently on their bases/stations. Chaplains served not only the moral and spiritual welfare of military personnel but also their families. The Protestant Branch ministered to all religious groups other than Roman Catholic. Roman Catholic chaplains were charged with caring for Roman and Orthodox Catholics. Roman Catholics represent by far the largest single denomination in the Canadian Forces.

In 1986 chaplains returned to wearing distinctive environmental uniforms but chaplain postings were not restricted by the colour of their uniforms. Chaplains are trained to serve in multiple military environments. This is but one of the many strengths that distinguishes Canadian Forces Chaplaincy internationally.

In 1993 the Canadian Forces Chaplain School and Centre opened its doors for the first time. This institution ensures that all chaplains receive the same high standard of training throughout their careers. In very short order the CFChSC has become a centre of excellence with an international reputation for being on the razor's edge of chaplain training and professional development. CFChSC opens its courses to established military and civilian chaplaincies and developing chaplaincies both nationally and internationally.

In 1995 the Protestant and Roman Catholic Chaplaincies joined. The first year was an administrative union under one Chaplain General at the strategic evel. In 1996 the operational and tactical levels of the chaplaincy followed suit. Major units in the past had two chaplains, one (P) and one (RC). In the recently united Chaplains' Branch each unit would have only one chaplain (P or RC). In all but ecclesiastical requirements chaplains began to operate generically within their units. The current Chaplains' Branch exercises better stewardship of resources, is more streamline, responds and is better understood by the chain of command, and is more capable of meeting its operational obligations, while maintaining the flexibility to meet the ecclesiastical needs of all faith groups.

Insignia

The insignia of the branch was officially described as follows:

In front of a wreath of maple leaves gules nerved or a Maltese Cross argent. In the centre a circle azure edged or and inscribed with the motto IN HOC SIGNO VINCES or. Within the circle azure a quatrefoil voided or. The whole ensigned by the Royal Crown proper.

Significance

The Maltese rendition of the Christian Cross has an historic military connotation as it was the badge of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, also called of Malta. Members of this monastic order of chivalry heroically defended Malta against the Turks in 1565, and later against the French in 1798.

Motto

IN HOC SIGNO VINCES ("In this sign conquer" - attributed to Constantine the Great when he embraced Christianity).1

Notes

  1. Badges of the Canadian Forces, Canadian Forces Publication 267

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