JTF-U shares chaplaincy experience with the Ukrainian Armed Forces

Ukrainian religious leaders sing the national anthem during a ceremony .
Lviv, Ukraine. February 10, 2017 – Ukrainian religious leaders taking part in the Joint Task Force - Ukraine chaplain development course sing the national anthem during a ceremony at the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy in Lviv, Ukraine, on February 10, 2017. (Photo : Joint Task Force – Ukraine)


By: Joint Task Force – Ukraine Public Affairs

Twenty-two Ukrainian religious leaders recently finished a two week military chaplaincy course hosted by Joint Task Force – Ukraine. The course was marked with a closing ceremony on February 10, 2017, at the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy in Lviv, Ukraine.

“My aim for this course was to present a model of chaplaincy based on the experience of the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service and to facilitate discussion among Ukrainian chaplains as they develop a clear vision of their own multi-faith chaplaincy model,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Pigeon, Commandant of the Canadian Forces Chaplain School and Centre and head instructor on the course.

The course included working with the military chain of command, leadership skills, and working as a chaplain in a deployed setting.

Currently, Ukrainian volunteers from the civilian clergy give pastoral care to Ukrainian military members, and there is no formal selection or standardized training. Recent constitutional and legal changes in Ukraine are paving the way for the creation and professionalization of a military chaplain service to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Five Canadian Armed Forces chaplains and five Ukrainian religious leaders with experience in military chaplaincy taught the course. The Canadian and Ukrainian staff took turns giving presentations. Working together in this way mirrored the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ efforts to develop a chaplaincy model to suit the needs of their diverse society and military.

Similar to the wide array of religions represented in the Canadian Chaplaincy branch, the Ukrainian training audience was made up of several faith groups. These included Greek Catholic, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Muslim.

“One of the key takeaways from the Canadian model is the tolerance and acceptance of other religions. That will be one of the biggest challenges for us – this course was the first time we all got together in one room,” said Father Stepan Sus, a Ukrainian Catholic chaplain and participant on the course. “I found this to be a very beneficial opportunity to exchange experiences, and I am thankful to have had the chance to take part.”

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  • A Canadian instructor leads a prayer during a ceremony.
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