Bishop Ordinary Peter Coffin
As head of the Anglican Military Ordinariate of Canada, Bishop Ordinary Peter Coffin is often asked what our chaplains do in Afghanistan. “They look after troops, they deal with the wounded, they go out on the convoys, they perform services,” he says, adding that in overseas deployments such as Afghanistan, communion could take place “out on a picnic table at a forward operating base.” Military chaplains or padres also carry out important duties on the home front, caring for the families of military personnel, and helping them cope with the strain of long separations, injury and death.
The Anglican Military Ordinariate of Canada-the ninth largest grouping of clergy and laity in the Anglican Church of Canada-reflects the role of the chaplain branch of the Canadian Forces. The 46 regular force chaplains and 32 reserve chaplains who make up the military ordinariate provide sacramental, liturgical and pastoral care to Anglican military personnel and their families. They also facilitate the worship of people of all faiths. “We care for all…who come to us for assistance, regardless of where they may be on their spiritual journey,” says a statement on the military ordinariate’s new website at www.anglican.ca
The ministry of the Anglican military chaplain also continues when troops return home, many of them changed by experiences too difficult to contemplate, let alone talk about. “Everyone who goes off on a deployment,” explains Bishop Coffin, “especially [to] a war zone, comes back in some way changed.”
Coming home can often mean discovering that your family has changed, too, he points out. “The baby is now walking.”
Whatever the situation, “our chaplains are there for them,” says Bishop Coffin. Ω