CathFamily | ANZAC Centenary Special

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A Century of Australians at War


Serving Those Who Serve PAGE 4


Special Activities PAGE 26



a rosary for our armed forces Looking for a unique way to connect your children with ANZAC Day? Why not make a Rosary Keychain to send to one of our armed service men and women.





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From the Editor... Welcome to the ANZAC Special Edition! It seemed fitting that we put in a little extra effort to create this edition in honour of the men and women who served in the Great War.

We present to you here a story that is often overlooked in our mainstream histories and national rituals; the story of Catholic military chaplains. These men worked tirelessly for the material and spiritual wellbeing of our soliders and continue to do so today. We feature a short history of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy and profile Fr John Fahey, an Irish parish priest who still is the longest-serving frontline Chaplain.

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We also interviewed Fr Bryan Pipins SJ, a current armed forces chaplain who has a unique insight into military life on base and on tour. My thanks go to Fr Byran for his time, Monsignor Peter O’Keefe and the staff at the Military Diocese of Australia for their ministry and for making this special edition possible.

Kiara Pirola Editor

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The 25th of April 2015 marks a century since of the beginning of the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign of World War I. This event looms large in the Australian consciousness and national identity for a number of reasons; it was the first war we fought in as an independent nation, it represents our coming of age on the world stage, and it was our loss of innocence too.

However, there is one group of people who tend to get overlooked in the many ceremonies and controversies over ANZAC Day:

There are many tributes honouring the soldiers who fell on the battlefields of Gallipoli and Europe and those who survived and have passed away in old age.

In honour of these men, CathFamily’s contribution to the ANZAC Centenary presents a window into the lives of the men serving the spiritual needs of our soldiers, both past and present.

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The men who risked life and limb to care for the spiritual needs of the those on the frontlines as Military Chaplains.

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The ship’s padre leading a church service on the quarterdeck for the ship’s company and A and C Companies of the 11th Battalion on HMS London, one of the ships carrying Australian troops leaving Lemnos for Gallipoli. HMS Majestic lies astern.

More on Chaplains in WWI at the Australian War Memorial

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The Chaplain Department of the Australian Imperial Forces was formed in 1913. It included 116 appointed chaplains with equal numbers of each denomination. After the War began, the numbers were rearranged according to the proportion of the populations. 414 clergy men served in WWI and received a total of 72 honours in recognition of their service.

Chaplains had few official dictates and used their own initiatives to establish the extent of their duties. On board ships and in the field, chaplains were responsible for burials, which often took place at night. Much of their time was occupied with burying the dead, recording the burial sites, gathering the personal effects of fallen soldiers and writing home to their families. They also provided individual counselling and comfort to soldiers wherever they could.

The Chaplains also played an essential role in the social life of the Army. On board troopships they organised study groups, sing-alongs and boxing tournaments as well as religious parades and services. Those who were assigned to training camps like in Egypt and Palestine provided lectures on Ancient History and tours for the soldiers and nurses as well as providing games, sporting events, libraries and concerts to try and keep the soldiers out of trouble.

They are affectionately called ‘Padres’ regardless of the denomination and many of them d were well loved an respected for their devotion to the troops.

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Chaplain Profile:

Fr John Fahey was born in County Tipperary, in Ireland. He was sent to Perth, Western Australia shortly after he was ordained in 1907 at age 24. Fr John joined the Australian Imperial Force in September of 1914 and was assigned to the 11th Battalion. On the 25th of April, 1915, he disregarded an order to remain on ship when the troops landed on ANZAC Cove and became the first chaplain ashore. He passed unscathed through the hail of bullets on the beach and was confronted with his place in the campaign. He wrote home to a priest friend:

“My first impulse was to grab a rifle and bayonet, and go with them. The cheering and yelling would do your heart good to hear… After clearing the first ridge, I saw so many wounded and dying that I had to turn my attention to them.”* * Jeff Kildea, Irish Anzacs: the contribution of the Australian Irish to the Anzac tradition, 1 May 2013,, p11.

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His fearless devotion to the spiritual and material wellbeing of the soldiers, living and dead, resulted in a number of very close calls. These included being buried in his dugout by a shell burst, having his pack struck by shrapnel, his overcoat penetrated by bullets and objects shot out of his hand. He continued to minister to his men until he was taken ill in November. After some time in recovery he rejoined the 11th Battalion in France where he served and stood witness to the misery of the trenches until 1917.

He returned to Australia in 1918 as the longest serving front-line chaplain of any denomination. For his service during the Gallipoli campaign, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for “gallantry under fire� and was also mentioned in the dispatches. He lived out the rest of his days as a parish priest until his death in 1959.

Click here for more on Irish ANZACS

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Group portrait of the original officers and men of the 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, Australian Imperial Force. The group of over 685 soldiers are spread over the side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) near Mena camp. Fr John is circled in red.

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An interview with Fr Bryan Pipins SJ I had the priviledge of interviewing a current military chaplain Fr Bryan Pipins. His energy and love for his ministry was very apparent and the joy he took from it was truly inspiring. Kiara: To start with, could you give us a quick biography?

Fr Bryan: I was born in Melbourne and joined the army reserves at 17 and then full time at 18. I trained as a soldier and officer and spent 13 years in the army. I then left to join the Jesuits in 1995. I went over to [East] Timor in 1999 to work with the refugees there for nearly 2 years. I then returned to Australia to complete my study and was ordained in 2003. Five days after ordination I was sent to the Philippines to teach English for two years. When this was finished I returned to Australia for a while before being sent to East Africa for a few years to work with refugees in Darfur, Uganda and South Sudan.

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In 2008, I was brought back to Australia to work on World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney for six months. When WYD finished I went to America to complete my final year of Jesuit formation in Boston and New York. When this was completed I took over as parish priest in Seven Hills SA and in 2012 was assigned as a chaplain in the Australian Army. I was assigned to Darwin and have been sent to Afghanistan three times. I returned from Afghanistan recently after spending five months on deployment.

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K: Most people outside the army have very little idea of what exactly Army Chaplains do, could you give us a quick rundown of your duties and what a typical day looks like?

B: My role has essentially two hats. The first is a pastoral role. I was embedded in a unit and was under the unit’s commander. I am essentially there for the soldiers as someone to talk with and support them who is outside their chain of command, but still part of the army. I spend a lot of time talking to them and helping them as a pastor work through the difficulties they are having.

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The other hat is as a minister. I’m in Darwin at the moment and I have to make the Sacraments available here in Darwin. This is for the personnel in Darwin of the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force). I also sacramentally care for the airforce personnel based in Katherine, which is 320 km away every second weekend. I used to do it by myself, but I recently had an army deacon arrive, to help support our parishioners.

K: That must certainly keep you busy! Do you find your ministry mainly focusing on Catholics or do you also interact with soldiers of other faiths or no faith?

B: My unit is very diverse and I get to know all of them. Because I was a soldier and I am outside their chain of command, soldiers feel they can talk to me. There are sensitive issues which are potentially damaging to their career, particularly with mental health, which they confide in me and seek guidance in finding support for them.

A lot soldiers have a fear of asking the wrong questions in case it would affect their record and career. They often fear that any blot on their record could affect their promotions which are quite competitive, even though that’s not how it actually works in the Australian Army. So I consult with the psychologists and feedback their insights to the soldiers and encourage them to get professional help when they need it. The psychologists in the Army are phenomenal and they really care.

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K: Does your ministry encounter the families of soldiers as well?

B: I often get to know the families of soldiers who bring them to Mass on a Sunday. As for my ministry, I don’t enter into the family space unless I am asked to. I can be called into a family crisis to offer pastoral support. K: As a history and politics student, I have noticed that the nature of warfare has changed quite a lot, especially with the emphasis on counter insurgency and guerrilla warfare. Do you see a difference from when you were in the armed forces to now and how do soldiers respond?

B: I’ve found that the nature of basic soldiering hasn’t really changed much at all. Counter insurgency has been around since the Vietnam War and The Malaya Emergency. One of the main things that has changed is the amount of information and technology available. A lot of soldiers are a lot more tech savvy than I am and the sheer volume of information to make sense of is what’s new.

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K: When you are on tour, what do you do to care for your own spiritual needs?

B: As you know Jesuits have a long formation period and so the space that it created in my life is what sustained me. I would say daily Mass on deployment and I would always have people there. I also spend some time every day in personal prayer and scripture reading. Having that space was really important for me and allowed me to focus my energy on the soldiers in my unit.

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K: If you don’t mind me asking about your recent tour, does the nature of your ministry change or is it the same as being back home?

B: In many ways not much changes, but the level of intensity does. Soldiers on tour sleep together, eat together, go on missions together; they spend every minute of every day with each other. There is very little space or privacy. I also become a part of that life. When you are in such close quarters with others, you see the pretenses fall away and you really get to know people. The way you get to know people really deeply is much like what a parish priest does over many years, but when you’re on tour, it happens much more quickly. My activities remain much the same, being available to soldiers and to administer the Sacraments but it’s on a whole new level. Being on tour gives me time to really focus on my ministry because I am less likely to get distracted by other things.

One of the other unexpected difficulties that technology has brought up is the ease of communication back home to families. Being able to call home over video as easily as we do now is unprecedented and good for the soldiers and the families. However, with the ease, there are expectations of daily communication back home which are not always able to be met. Sometimes our comms would go down for hardware reasons or would be shut down temporarily for security reasons and the missed daily call produces a lot of anxiety for families back home, especially because we can’t tell them not to panic, it’s just a technical problem.

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K: A lot of Australians have very little idea of what soldiers experience on tour. Do you find that soldiers have some difficulty readjusting to life back home or does that depend on the individual soldier?

B: In my experience it really depends on the individual soldier and also on the tour. When you have guys who go on tour and lose a lot of people, they have a harder time back home. On the other hand, if it is a relatively uneventful tour then there is less of an adjustment.

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K: Finally, what are some things we can do practically to support our soldiers spiritually?

B: When I was in Timor as part of a non-government agency (JRS), a lady in Brisbane used to send us Rosary beads to give to the refugees there. That simple thing meant a lot to them and I’ve found the same thing with the soldiers. I always try and have some for people to take. You’d be amazed at how quickly they disappear. Our soldiers need our prayers too, especially around holiday times like Easter and Christmas. Christmas cards with Creches on them are much appreciated. They especially need our prayers because quite often, they not only spend their holidays without their families but without the Sacraments as well. When I was on tour, I was the only Catholic priest available for the entire of Coalition forces in Kandahar and Kabul.

So pray for our soldiers, everyone can do that and they need them.

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A rosary for our armed forces

Our men and women in the armed forces need our prayers and what prayer is more effective than the Rosary?

To mark ANZAC Day this year, do something special for our soldiers. It’s simple! 1. Make or buy a set of Rosary beads. 2. Pray with the beads for a soldier. 3. Write a note to let them know you are praying for them. 4. Send the beads to the Military Chaplaincy who will distribute them as needed.


The Chancery Catholic Military Ordinariate 30 White Cresent Campbell ACT 2612 24 | ANZAC Special April 2015

If you’d like to make your rosary beads, check out

THE ROSARY KEYCHAIN The Rosary Keychain is an integrated catechesis and craft activity that powerfully engages children in the Rosary.

Family Pack • Contains 10 individual kits in assorted colours. • 10 wallet-sized prayer booklets with instructions on how to make your Rosary Keychain and pray the Rosary.


Class Pack • Contains 35 individual kits with booklet. • A complete lesson plan • Introductory video. • Powerpoint SAVE presentation of instructions 20% NOW! & meditation slides for all the Mysteries.




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ANZAC Day is a significant day for Australians and there are lots of time honoured traditions like making (and eating) ANZAC biscuits, laying poppy wreaths and attending dawn memorial services.


ANZAC Biscuits

Mark the day with a traditional wartime food! ANZAC biscuits were a staple part of the rations at Gallipoli because they kept for months.


Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

St Francis is well known for his commitment to poverty, simplicity and peace. This famous prayer first appeared during the First World War however, scholars do not believe that St Francis wrote it. It was found written on the reverse of a holy card of St. Francis by an anonymous author, hence its association with the great Saint of Peace.

All this and more can be found at

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However, there is no reason why you cannot give ANZAC Day a unique Catholic twist, drawing on our rich theological heritage and making ANZAC Day that little more concrete.


War & Peace

People in the armed forces are called in a special way to be servants of peace. We can all do something to contribute to building up peace, by working to increase love and justice in our daily lives and wherever we find ourselves.


Paper Chain of Peace

The origami paper crane is a traditional symbol of peace. Each family member can make a crane and transfer the words of one line from the Peace Prayer of St Francis onto the wings of the crane. Alternatively, you may like to write the names of family and friends who have served in the armed forces.

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