WESTVILLE – Chaplains and padres have been crucial to the well-being of military personnel in war and in peace, Vince Joyce says.
Medals, uniforms and other materials form part of the artifacts on display at the Pictou County Military Museum, of which Joyce is founder and president. It is located in the same building as police and fire services in Westville.
“They were important for the war effort, not just for religious reasons,” he said. “They looked after soldiers’ fears, depression – everything. Whenever veterans got a letter from home, the first thing they’d do is go talk to the padre.”
The dichotomy for Joyce is that padres have ministered to military personnel on both sides of battles.
“Both sides thought God was on their side, but God didn’t make wars; human beings did,” he said.
Joyce’s research and information given to him illustrates how chaplains and padres have supported military personnel during and after the two world wars and up to the present day and continue to do so.
He noted how the word chaplain has Christian roots, but it now describes personnel trained to serve spiritual needs for military personnel, as well as those in police, fire and other services. They may work with those with or without religious affiliation.
Despite chaplaincy’s role in world wars, it was not until 1948 when the Canadian Army Chaplain Corps was authorized.
It was succeeded by the chaplain branch of the Canadian forces in 1969.
Joyce also saluted John Weir Foote, who became chaplain of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in helping to care for the wounded and evacuated them from Dieppe in 1942.