Dean James McShane, who serves at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in the diocese of Algoma, became the first honorary chaplain of the 49th Field Regiment in its 103-year history in ceremony January 7.
“I’m very pleased-I’m humbled by it at the same time,” McShane said. “I think it’s a great thing both for the church and for the regiment…and I think it uplifts the relationships that we have, and that’s a good thing.”
In a press release put out by the regiment, commanding officer Lt.-Col. Lance Knox said the 49th was “very pleased to have Dean McShane in service to our personnel,” and noted that the position was “a sign of our appreciation for his commitment and pastoral leadership.”
In an interview with the Anglican Journal, McShane said his relationship with the regiment began four-and-a half years ago as an extension of his work at the cathedral, which is the “pastoral home” of the 49th.
“I’ve worked with them and desired and enjoyed a growing relationship with them over time,” he said, “and I can continue to extend the kind of pastoral interests and care to the regiment in this time in the absence of a regular chaplain.”
As honorary chaplain, he will fulfill the duties of regular chaplain without actually having to become a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. McShane said this was important, as he isn’t eligible to enlist. “I’m an old man by military standards,” he explained, laughing.
But while McShane may never have served in the military himself, his experience ministering to military personnel goes back to his time as incumbent at St. George’s Anglican Church in Trenton, Ont., which is home to the largest Air Force base in Canada.
“I had a lot of co-operative work with the padres on that base there, and it gave me a sensitivity to the particular human and pastoral and spiritual context and needs that people serving in the military might have,” he said.
Diocese of Algoma Bishop Stephen Andrews, who led the St. Luke’s congregation in prayer February 7, said he “fully supports the pastoral partnership of Dean McShane’s ministry with the regiment.”