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No Ordinary Shepherds

Padres in World War II

In 2017 Dr James Hagerty published Priests in Uniform: Catholic Chaplains to the British Forces in the First World War. One reviewer described it as ‘a clear, well-researched and authoritative study…with inspiring stories.’ Another wrote: ‘This moving and vivid account recalls the dedicated ministry of priests who ministered to men engaged in a war without precedent.’

In No Ordinary Shepherds: Catholic Chaplains to the British Forces in the Second World War James Hagerty again shows how Catholic service personnel, away from home and frequently in life-threatening circumstances, identified with their chaplain − the focus of their faith community in uniform. For individuals and groups, the padre brought the presence of the Church, the comfort of prayer, and the power of the sacraments into the midst of war. 

Chaplains ministered in an unfamiliar and dangerous world, with all services in all theatres of war. They encountered men and women, military and civilian, far removed from their usual way of life and familiar social relationships. They were confronted with circumstances, attitudes and personalities beyond their experience. Their ministry was an immediate, practical and difficult apostolate requiring faith, courage and fortitude. Some chaplains were killed; others were wounded. Many were decorated for bravery. Their military service was a profound individual and collective Christian witness.

Bishop Paul Mason wrote: ‘This is a thoroughly researched account of devoted priests who fulfilled their vocation in the most unusual and unexpected ways. No Ordinary Shepherds is an appropriate tribute to their heroic labours’.  


James Hagerty, No Ordinary Shepherds: Catholic Chaplains to the British Forces in the Second World War is to be published by Gracewing in Autumn 2020 (www.gracewing.co.uk)

Background photo source:(Linked here):  International Centre of Photography (ICP). Photograph of a Catholic priest celebrating Mass on the hood of a Jeep, by WWII Hungarian photographer, Robert Capa circa.1938. © Cornelia Capa
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