HMAS Tobruk holds two church parades on the same day – a Navy first
11 December 2013
ADF chaplains made history on 24 November, when parades for two churches were held for the first time in HMAS Tobruk.
Chaplain Thi Lam of HMAS Tobruk said the Navy’s Senior Chaplain told him this had not happened since the days of the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbournewhich carried two chaplains.
“I felt really wonderful and joyful to be able to hold two separate Sunday church services at sea on a Navy ship,” he said.
“It has been such a privilege for chaplains of different denominations to be able to officiate at services in accordance with their own faith tradition for their own people.”
The Army’s Chaplain Gary Pope said the theme of his service was having the ‘Nerve to Serve’ in the footsteps of Jesus.
“The fact we were on board a ship en route to serve as part of Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST made the Bible's message all the more pertinent and significant,” he said.
Chaplain Pope said one of the pleasures of being a Padre in the Army was the diversity of contexts he was able to minister within.
“There is always something special about leading a service in God's creation under an open sky and the sky in the middle of the ocean is as open as it gets,” he said.
“Being on board HMAS Tobruk provides an opportunity to learn more about the traditions of the Navy and it surprised me there is an actual pennant flown during church services.”
Chaplain Thi Lam conducted a Roman Catholic service on the ship’s Gun Direction Platform deck at 9am, followed by an Other Denominations service held a half hour later by Chaplain Pope of the Townsville-based 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment.
Both services were well attended by a mixture of ship’s company and embarked forces.