Old Army Chalice Finds New Owner

Fr Ghanem

Chaplain Paul Ghanem OFM recently contributed to ForceNet, a Defence online publication. He has been parading for three months with 8 Signals Regiment, a Reserve unit of the 2nd Division. He said, ’Although the military language is still beyond me, I am slowly gaining in my confidence and the evenings pass quickly. I’m sure that the Specialist Service Officer (SSO) Course I’m panelled to attend in August will go a long way to helping me better serve my Regiment.’ The article reads:

Seventy-six years separates our Commissioning but, as if by design and not chance, mine and Padre Brendan Rogers lives crossed paths. Brendan served in the Malaya campaign and became a POW at Changi; meanwhile I’ve yet to complete my SSO course. In 2000, after being ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest in the Order of Friars Minor (commonly known as the ‘Franciscans’), I found myself seated at every dinner with a grumpy, old ex-Padre, if for no other reason that no one else sat next to him! I was interested in his story and where his life had taken him. There we sat, he at the end of his service and me at the start of mine. He astounded me when he gave me his Army-issued mass chalice. Although both of us are of the Franciscan Order, mine and Brendan’s stories are worlds apart. I grew up as the fourth child of five to Lebanese migrants. My parents came from a small Maronite Christian village in northern Lebanon. I was born in Blacktown and grew up in Belmore, which means I’ve always been a Doggies supporter.

After graduating from university, I was a social worker treating drug and alcohol abuse before joining the Franciscans. I’ve worked in schools, youth and social service chaplaincies and as a parish assistant in Nazareth, Israel. My current job is as the Parish Priest of St Francis of Assisi, Paddington and St Joseph’s Edgecliff.

Brendan died before I was commissioned. I like to think that I am following him in the line of Franciscans serving as military chaplains. I value the opportunity to provide pastoral care and practical support to you and the men and women who risk their lives in the service of our country.

A more extensive article will be in Serving Faithfully #27, published in August 2017.