A Chaplain provides religious ministration and spiritual ministry to all members of a Canadian Forces unit regardless of religious affiliation.
Their responsibilities include:
- Officiating at special functions
- Providing pastoral care to members and their families
- Advising the Commanding Officer regarding the spiritual and ethical wellbeing and morale of their unit
- Liaising with civilian religious faith groups
- Referring members to other care providers such as social workers or medical personnel
- Providing directed care after critical incidents
As the only Chaplain in the unit, they are also required to gain and apply knowledge in general military administration and chaplain branch policies.
A Chaplain can work in all military environments with members of the Navy, Army and the Air force. Chaplains provide a ministry of presence and offer spiritual teaching programs. Ceremonies typically require the chaplain to offer prayers, and church services in public and unit parades. Liaison with other spiritual leaders in the civilian community is expected. Chaplains can work in Canada or may be required to go abroad during operations. A Chaplain has privileged access to all members, has no commanding authority, and is prohibited from bearing arms.
The starting salary for a fully-trained Chaplain Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (Navy)or Captain, their salary is approximately $74,000 per year. Chaplains who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
A Chaplain normally starts his or her ministry as a Unit chaplain for the first three to four years. Some may be appointed Chapel Life Coordinator or called to lead a small Chaplain Team. A variety of experiences in the Navy, Army and Air Force will give the Chaplain the necessary experience to better serve and to undertake more significant responsibilities. On promotion to Major, a Chaplain becomes the normal supervisor of peers as a Brigade Chaplain or Staff Officer Chaplain in different areas of responsibilities in the Chaplaincy. At the more senior ranks, Chaplains are normally assigned to Operational and Strategic levels within the Chaplaincy.
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 14 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Forces, basic weapons 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 officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
The mandatory training for Chaplains includes Pastoral Counselling and Ethics. The courses Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Operations and Stress Management as a Result of a Critical Incident will be offered during the first years of service.
Chaplains must be ordained or mandated by a nationally registered faith group, and have a Masters of Divinity degree preparing for ministry (or equivalent). As part of the application, the Chaplain candidate must provide proof of support from the local ecclesiastical authority. They must also receive support from a representative of the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy (ICCMC), the endorsement of the ICCMC and be selected by the Chaplain General. The ICCMC expects applicants to have at least two years of supervised experience in a civilian ministry.
If you already have a Masters of Divinity and two years experience in a civilian ministry, the Canadian Forces may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.
This position is available for part-time employment through the Reserves. Reservists generally work part-time for a Reserve unit in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Reservists train with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required in order to specialize skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.
Typically, Reservists work or train with their home unit for at least four evenings and one weekend per month, from September to May of each year. They are paid 85% of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.