Faith and Life
Baptism is the visible way in which someone enters the Christian family.
The Catholic Church accepts the baptism of anyone who was baptised in the name of the Trinity.
If you wish to have your child baptised, the usual place is where you normally participate in Sunday Mass. However, for sailors the usual place of their Sunday worship may be in their ship and so a practice has grown up of having a child baptised in the father’s or mother’s ship.
Should you wish to have your child baptised in your ship, then you need to obtain permission both from the Commanding Officer and from the Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain, acting as the Bishop’s Vicar Episcopal. The appropriate order in which to do things (though a little simultaneous activity is perfectly proper) is:
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Royal Air Force
RAF Pastoral Advisory Group Retreats
The Principal Catholic Chaplain of the RAF is assisted by a group of people (serving, veterans and dependents) to deliver activities for the Catholic faithful in the RAF. Activities range from the International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes, assisting HCPT with children of RAF dependents going to Lourdes and the organisation of retreats at Benedictine Monasteries.
The retreats have been running for over ten years and recently they have centred on Worth Abbey in West Sussex and Belmont Abbey in Herefordshire. The retreats are organised by a small team, Wing Commander Jake McAllister and Sergeant Caroline Routledge. Each retreat offers approximately 15 places, open to serving regular and reserve personnel from the RAF. MoD Civil Servants, members of the other Services and dependents can apply for any unused places. The retreats have been increasing in popularity and this year we have been overwhelmed by the number of applicants. This indicates a strong, and building, recognition of the importance of this type of activity in the maintenance of robust mental health and spiritual resilience. The team are currently attempting to secure two additional retreat venues to cater for the demand.
Each year there are normally at least two opportunities to go on pilgrimage to Lourdes in the south of France as part of a Service community: with the HCPT (Hosanna House and Children’s Pilgrimage Trust) children’s pilgrimage at Easter; and with the IMP (International Military Pilgrimage) in May, either supporting a veterans HCPT group for a week long pilgrimage, or as part of the IMP Naval Contingent for a shorter 4-day pilgrimage.
Very occasionally additional pilgrimages may be organised to other sites such as Rome, Fatima, the Holy Land, or Walsingham.
HCPT – Hosanna House and Children’s Pilgrimage Trust
HCPT is a UK-based Catholic charity offering pilgrimage holidays to the shrine of Lourdes in South West France for disabled and disadvantaged people from around the UK and further afield.
Within the wider context of this national organisation, groups from each of the Armed Forces exist, which focus on children and veterans with special needs from our Armed Forces communities. Groups are made up of serving helpers, supported by some retired and dependant personnel, as well as specialist service health care professionals and normally a Service Chaplain. The pilgrimage week has a family atmosphere with a 1-to-1 participant / helper ratio and is based on a spine of faith activities with a great number of opportunities for fun.
The children’s pilgrimage takes place at Easter and within the Armed Forces region, the Royal Navy runs two groups:
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Royal Air Force
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Pastoral Advisory Group (PAG)
The RAF PAG has been active since it was first created, under the direction of the then Bishop to the Forces, BishopTom Burns, in 2006. MonsignorJohn Daley wasthe RAF PRRC at that time, and he gathered together a group of interested and committed lay Catholicsserving in the RAF to provide support to the RAF PRRC, his Chaplains, and to the wider RAF RC Community. This was at a time when it was recognised that the number of Catholic Chaplains within the RAF waslow and getting lower. Sadly, thatsituation has not improved. The work and support of the PAG, then, is even more important now than it wasin 2006. The RAF PAG meets quarterly. It is made up of individualsfrom acrossthe RAF’srank structure and geographical locations. The PAG has alwayssought to include junior ranks within its membership, providing an ideal opportunity for personal and professional development. As well asthe Chair and the RAF PRRC, other memberstake a lead for the RAF’sinvolvement in the International Military Pilgrimage, with the HCPT pilgrimage, and with the annual solemn Mass of Remembrance at Westminster Cathedral. The PAG also has dependants, veterans, and ecumenical representation as well as a communications lead. We are also able to mobilise to support one-off eventssuch asthe Papal Visit to the UK in 2010, the installation of the Bishop to the Forces,WorldYouth Day, and the RAF 100 Massin 2018. We are providing support to the organisation of the Apostolat Militaire International (AMI) Conference taking place in London this year.
Some of the PAG pictured here with Bishop Paul at Douai Abbey during our 24 hour period of reflection and prayer, and one of our quarterly meetings.
The PAG primarily seeksto serve and support the RAF RC community, be they serving or retired members of the regular or reserve force, RAF dependants, and members of oursister Services or civilians working at RAF establishments. We can use our collective experience and service knowledge to support and provide guidance to our PRRC and the other RC Chaplains. We aim to communicate to the RAF RC community on faith matters, providing witness, a presence and encouragement to a network of Catholics. Our methods of communication continue to move with the times; although we still produce a regular newsletter, we now have a Facebook presence (RAF RC Group) and a site on Defence Connect. We willsoon have accessto a smartphone app. The constitution of the RAF PAG callsfor the PAG to support and encourage vocationsto the Chaplaincy. We have had at least 2 members of the PAG become permanent Deacons, including Rev (Sqn Ldr) Neil Galloway who, as a SNCOcommunications specialist, was a founder member of the PAG and has now returned to the PAG as a serving Chaplain. The PAG can be justly proud of itsinitiative in organising the annual RAF Retreatseries. These continue to go from strength to strength and are firmly established within the RAF calendar to provide a space for respite and reflection and to assist with an understanding of the moral component of conflict. Countless numbers of RAF personnel have participated in the Retreats over the years. In the past we have visited Ampleforth Abbey in NorthYorkshire but more recently have enjoyed the unique Benedictine spirituality provided by the communities at Belmont Abbey, Herefordshire andWorth Abbey,West Sussex. This year the response to the calling notice has been phenomenal,so much so, that we are organising a third Retreat to cope with unprecedented demand. Recently the RAF PAG held its meeting at Douai Abbey in Berkshire and was able to combine the business of the meeting with an overnightstay and a period of prayer and reflection. We were honoured and privileged that Bishop Paul was able to join us at Douai as we discussed our full programme for 2020 and beyond. FrOliver, a monk of Douai, led usin a period of reflection with a theme of,‘Finding space for God among the noise and busyness of life’. All found much of value as FrOliver reminded us of the opening words of the rule of St Benedict: Listen, my son,to the instructions of your Master,turn the ear of your heartto the advice of a loving father. It has been my privilege to serve the RAF RC Community through the PAG for over a decade. The aim of the PAG remains constant with service of God and of others at its core. Please pray for our Chaplains, for more vocationsto military Chaplaincy, and for the work of the RAF PAG.