The Reverend Captain Michael McGee, Rector of St Christopher, West Vancouver is currently serving as Chaplain to the BC Regiment. Michael has just completed his Basic Military Officer Qualification (Chap-BMOQ) at CFB St Jean-sur-Richelieu and has been periodically reporting on his month long experience to his Parish, the Bishop and the Executive Archdeacon. The following is the final installment from the first segment of his training.
It's hard to believe but tonight is my last night in St Jean.
We have spent the last two days preparing for our graduation parade, final interviews and various administration details. There have been long moments of waiting around. For the last two days we have lived the army motto of "Hurry up! ...and wait"
Tonight we were allowed to leave the base and go out into the town for a meal together. This was a nice experience to share a meal, some laughter, and stories.
We started out as a platoon of 17 chaplains but ended with 16 as one person tore the Meniscus in her knee. We also almost lost another candidate yesterday but after some medical attention he's back with us and should be able to make the parade tomorrow.
While this experience has been a trial, and there were a couple of times when I thought I'd simply pack it in; I have been given a brief taste of what the people I minister to through. The Reg Force course for other candidates is 14 weeks long. Doctors and Chaplains are given a condensed program of 4 weeks. We are expected to cover almost every topic that is covered in those 14 weeks within 4 weeks and with an additional 10 days of distance learning prior to coming to St Jean. There are some things that Padres learn about but either they don't have to do it, or they do in a modified way. For example we have to learn how to make make a weapon safe but we don't have to learn how to strip it down, clean it and qualify on the range. Likewise, we are taught battle procedure but instead of getting 3 weeks to learn it we are given one.
The condensed nature of this padre course makes for long days and the mental drain we have experienced.
I have appreciated both your support in sending me on the course and your prayers for my successful completion. This experience will strengthen both my parish ministry as well as my work with soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces.