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Chaplains' Conferences

Chaplains' Conferences

At an early date in 1940 the first chaplains' conference was held in the YMCA in Maadi. This came to be a regular weekly event in Maadi and also, when conditions permitted, a frequent event in the Division. All chaplains would attend, and the presence of the Roman Catholics supplied a solidarity and family spirit which must have been rare in other Empire forces. The meetings would begin with a period of silent prayer, the reading of minutes, and the weekly posting of chaplains to certain duties, such as visits to page 14 prisons or services for small isolated units. Problems of a general nature were shared and discussed, and many a chaplain was encouraged to find that his difficulties were not due entirely to his own incompetence but were common to all his brothers. Perhaps the greatest value of these conferences was the opportunity they supplied for the chaplains to get to know each other and become friends. The wide and friendly acquaintanceship so common in the 2nd NZEF found full expression in the Chaplains' Department. There were never more than fifty-five chaplains at any one time, and thanks to these conferences they became one friendly team, knowing each other by Christian names; and as time went by the mutual liking and respect increased. But this friendliness was not there ready-made: it had to be created, and it came through wise leadership and the satisfactory solution of some of the early problems. In addition to these conferences, the Senior Chaplain held regular meetings with the senior chaplains of the different denominations when matters of policy and posting would be discussed.