I am a chaplain at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, in Manitoba, working with the military that is getting ready to be deployed in February 2008. I currently work as the chapel life co-ordinator of St. Barbara’s Chapel.
This will be the first time in many years that chapels in the area will be hosting a Christmas pageant/musical called Christmas on Gloria Street, a children’s production by Glory Sound.
Children from Our Lady of Shilo Roman Catholic Chapel and St. Barbara’s Protestant Chapel will celebrate the Christmas story through music and drama. Community children who attend vacation Bible school have also been invited to participate.
We celebrate peace at Christmas. The chaplain general provides chaplains with a prayer for peace and a mandate to recognize peace during the Advent season. At CFB Shilo, with the blessing of Lt. Col. John Schneiderbanger, this celebration of peace will be held during the largest base Christmas Concert with the 1 Canadian Air Division band. More than 500 people attend this concert, and the chaplains will share the prayer of peace and a message to those assembled. This is a unique way to bridge the gap between the religious and secular; it was an idea begun by our previous senior chaplain, Lt. Cdr. Douglas Ohs who is now serving in Victoria.
With the Military Family Resource Centre, a Christmas gift tree and Christmas hamper program is co-ordinated with the chaplains to supply food and toys to those who struggle financially. Chaplains from all the units submit names of people they believe would benefit from a hamper. Along with this effort, Bdr. Kellie Stocker from 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, with chaplain support, co-ordinates a program called Operation Holiday Harvest which raises food for the CFB Shilo Emergency Food Bank, and new and used toys for The Samaritan House Christmas Store and the Brandon Friendship Centre. Last year a large military truck was needed to deliver the toys to the charities in Brandon.
There are many other non-religious celebrations, dinners, concerts and events planned at the base and through the different clubs and organizations. We are definitely blessed to have the many opportunities present to us on the base at CFB Shilo to blend the sacred and secular.
Rev. Capt. Dwayne W. Bos
St. Barbara’s, CFB Shilo, Man.