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April 26, 2012
A CHAPLAIN who has seen first-
hand the struggles of Navy members
dealing with life issues says there is
a way to help tackle those issues --
through faith, and a bit of help from a
unique DVD course.
CHAP Dan Hynes, of HMAS
Cairns, says the Faith Under Fire
course helps members see how faith
plays a pivotal role in providing sta-
bility in their lives.
"We live among a very spiritually
aware generation," CHAP Hynes said.
"People on-board may not attend
chapel much, but they often tell me
they are spiritual and that it is a very
important part of their life.
"As a chaplain I often get labelled
'religious' -- which I am not -- and
asked which 'flavour' I am -- a pretty
standard conversation opener when
talking with a chaplain.
"I usually say that I am a
Christian believer and as such I also
share an interest in the spiritual.
"Sadly the conversation often goes
onto other topics almost as if spiritu-
alism is an unfortunate condition we
both share but would be better off not
CHAP Hynes said questions at the
centre of spirituality inevitably arise
during events such as christenings,
weddings, on deployment, when we
suffer, and notably, in death.
"So although we often pay little
attention to the spiritual, it sure is
real and, like physical exercise, we
would do well to invest time and ener-
gy into our spiritual fitness each day,"
He said Faith Under Fire was an
ADF-tailored course that sought to
do just that -- explore spiritual fitness
Faith Under Fire talks about
SPIRITUAL leadership in a military
environment was the major theme dis-
cussed by 30 Navy chaplains when
they marked the Centenary of Navy
Chaplaincy in Sydney.
Known in jack speak as 'sin
bosuns', chaplains have served as an
integral part of the RAN since June
The conference at the RAN
Heritage Centre from April 11-12
enabled the chaplains to address the
important issue of spiritual leadership
in the Navy and ADF.
The Director-General Chaplaincy
Navy, Principal Chaplain Stuart Hall,
said the conference addressed what it
meant to be a spiritual leader in a mili-
"During the conference we exam-
ined the chaplains who served in the
RAN in the past and how they excelled
in the area of spiritual leadership by
responding to the needs of sailors at
sea and onshore," he said.
CHAP Hall said a number of Navy
chaplains in World War II successfully
employed spiritual leadership to help
ease the worries and fears of sailors
during desperate times.
The main focus was CHAP Keith
Mathieson, who toiled on the Death
Railway in WWII, and said that reli-
gion, combined with the heroic efforts
of medical staff and the entertainment
MEETING OF MINDS: The author of Chaplains in the RAN, Associate Professor Chaplain Rowan Strong,
centre, is flanked by CDRE Daryl Bates, right, and Principle Chaplain Stuart Hall, along with former and
current Navy chaplains at the RAN's chaplain centenary conference in Sydney.
Photo by LSIS Brenton Freind
CHAPs chew over past
program, were the "great factors
which played a tremendous part in the
sustaining of morale".
CHAP Hall said the conference
also addressed the psyche of young
people today and how chaplains could
improve their interpersonal communi-
cation skills to enhance their ability as
To mark the centenary of Navy
chaplaincy, a new book was launched
to highlight how chaplains have
served the RAN.
Chaplains in the RAN: 1912 to
The Vietnam War was launched by
Commodore Training CDRE Daryl
Bates at the conference on April 12.
CDRE Bates said the 350-page
book revealed the difficulties and suc-
cesses of RAN chaplains who had
sought to serve both God and country
in times of war and peace.
The book profiles chaplains serv-
ing at sea and in naval establishments
from CHAP Mathieson to the first
RAN chaplain to be killed in action,
George Stubbs, on HMAS Sydney II.
New sources, including a WWI
diary by one of the original group of
RAN chaplains, and a memoir by the
Unique course in
available on DVD
death, life and the Christian faith
which is so often misunderstood and
yet has had a profound impact on our
society and many things we hold dear
such as our values, morals, and out-
look on life.
"It's a great resource and the DVD
includes heaps of interviews with
sailors, soldiers, airmen and women,
right up to the CDF," CHAP Hynes
He will be running a course at
HMAS Cairns and is keen to hear
feedback. Many other Defence chap-
lains are also running courses or can
provide the DVD and course manual
to work through.
To find out more about Faith Under Fire, visit
the VCDF Group homepage under the 'Quick
only RAN chaplain to be taken POW,
have enabled this history to be written
with a more human face than official
The chapter on WWI is especially
interesting, with the pre-battle prayers
of CHAP Vivian Little on board
HMAS Sydney I apparently answered
when 10 of the 15 rounds fired by
SMS Emden failed to explode despite
penetrating the Australian light-cruis-
Written by Rowan Strong, a pro-
fessional historian who is also an
Anglican priest and a chaplain in the
RAN Reserve, Chaplains in the RAN
began as a project in 2006.
Professor Strong said it was
Principal Chaplain Eric Burton who
first enthusiastically supported the idea
of a history of RAN chaplains.
"This support was continued under
Principal Chaplain Gary Lock, who
steered it to its successful outcome in
being published by a major Australian
publisher, UNSW Press," Professor
"Without the endorsement and
unfailing support of both senior naval
figures this work of naval history
would never have got off the ground,
let alone have been published."
The book only covers up to the
Vietnam War because access to official
records is closed from the mid-1970s
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