Chaplain: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A chaplain is typically a priest, pastor, ordained deacon, rabbi, imam, other member of the clergy, or another representative of a faith or belief, serving a group of people who are not organized as a mission or church, or who are unable to attend religious services for various reasons, such as health, confinement, or military or civil duties. Lay chaplains are also found in other settings such as universities. For example, a chaplain is often attached to a military unit (where he or she is sometimes referred to as padre), a private chapel, a ship, a prison, a hospital, a high school, college or especially boarding school, a parliamentary assembly and so on. Though originally the word, chaplain, had Christian roots, it is now applied to men or women of other religions -- and sometimes, to individuals claiming no religion, as in the case of the humanist chaplains serving with military forces in the Netherlands -- filling the same role. In recent years many non-ordained individuals have received professional training in chaplaincy and are now appointed as chaplains in schools, hospitals, universities, prisons and elsewhere to work alongside or instead of ordained chaplains.[1]


Types of chaplains



A Catholic chaplain ministers to American Marines and Sailors in Tikrit, Iraq

A chaplain provides spiritual and pastoral support for service personnel, including the conduct of religious services at sea or in the field. Military chaplains have a long history; the first English military-oriented chaplains, for instance, were priests on board proto-naval vessels during the eighth century A.D. Land based chaplains appeared during the reign of King Edward I. The current form of military chaplain dates from the era of the First World War.

Navy Jewish Chaplain Arnold Resnicoff, Beirut 1983.

Chaplains are nominated, appointed, or commissioned in different ways in different countries. A military chaplain can be an army-trained soldier with additional theological training or a priest nominated to the army by religious authorities. In the United Kingdom the Ministry of Defence employs chaplains but their authority comes from their sending church. Royal Navy chaplains undertake a 16 week bespoke induction and training course including a short course at Britannia Royal Naval College and specialist fleet time at sea alongside a more experienced chaplain. Naval Chaplains called to service with the Royal Marines undertake a grueling 5 month long Commando Course, and if successful wear the commandos' Green Beret. British Army chaplains undertake seven weeks training at The Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre Amport House and The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Royal Air Force chaplains must complete 12 weeks Specialist Entrant course at the RAF College Cranwell followed by a Chaplains' Induction Course at Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre Amport House of a further 2 weeks. In the United States military, chaplains must be endorsed by their religious affiliation in order to serve in any facet of the military.[2][3]

U.S. Navy Chaplain Father Kenneth Medve offers Catholic Mass onboard the USS Ronald Reagan (2006)

Military Chaplains are normally accorded officer status, although Sierra Leone had a Naval Lance Corporal chaplain in 2001. In most navies, their badges and insignia do not differentiate their levels of responsibility and status. By contrast, in Air Forces and Armies, they typically carry ranks and are differentiated by crosses or other equivalent religious insignia. However, United States military chaplains Association and every branch carry both rank and Chaplain Corps insignia.

President George W. Bush congratulates Navy Chaplain, Imam Abuhena Saifulislam, the first U.S. Navy Muslim chaplain assigned to the Marine Corps.

Though the Geneva Conventions do not state whether chaplains may bear arms, they specify (Protocol I, 8 June 1977, Art 43.2) that chaplains are noncombatants. In recent years both the UK and US have required chaplains, but not medical personnel, to be unarmed. Other nations, notably Norway, Denmark and Sweden, make it an issue of individual conscience. Captured chaplains are not considered Prisoners of War (Third Convention, 12 August 1949, Chapter IV Art 33) and must be returned to their home nation unless retained to minister to prisoners of war.

A U.S. Navy chaplain in Iraq studies his Bible for an upcoming service.
Four Chaplains stained glass window, U.S. Pentagon

Inevitably, a significant number of serving chaplains have died in action. The U.S. Army and Marines lost 100 chaplains killed in action during WWII: a casualty rate greater "than any other branch of the services except the infantry and the Army Air Corps" (Crosby, 1994, pxxiii). Many have been decorated for bravery in action (five have won Britain's highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross). The Chaplain's Medal for Heroism is a special U.S. military decoration given to military chaplains who have been killed in the line of duty, although it has to date only been awarded to the famous Four Chaplains, all of whom died in the USAT Dorchester sinking in 1943 after giving up their lifejackets to others.

The United States European Command has co-sponsored an annual International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference every year since 1991.

At times, the existence of military chaplains has been challenged in countries that have a separation of Church and State.[4][5]


Samuel Provoost, First Chaplain of the Continental Congress, 1789

Some nations, including the United States, have chaplains appointed to work with parliamentary bodies, such as the Chaplain of the United States Senate, and the Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. In addition to opening proceedings with prayer, these chaplains provide pastoral counseling to congressional members, their staffs, and their families; coordinate the scheduling of guest chaplains, who offer opening prayers; arrange and sometimes conduct marriages, memorial services, and funeral services for congress, staff, and their families; and conduct or coordinate religious services, study groups, prayer meetings, holiday programs, and religious education programs, as well.

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement Chaplains serve in local, county, state and federal agencies and provide a variety of important services within the law enforcement community. [6]They should not be confused with Prison Chaplains, whose primary ministry is to those who are incarcerated either awaiting trial or after conviction. The role of the Law Enforcement Chaplain deals primarily with Law Enforcement personnel and agencies. Law enforcement officers are faced with having to make split second decisions which at times cause a tremendous amount of anxiety, frustration and criticism for doing their jobs. Many times this will create problems for the officers and their families as well as often being reflected in their job performance and, or, their on the job attitudes towards both others officers and the public that they serve. The chaplain responds to these unique needs and challenges with spiritual guidance, reassuring and trustworthy presence, resources and counseling services. Also, Law Enforcement chaplains are often involved as resource providers in assisting with hostage negotiations, death notifications in the community, public relations and other needs that the law enforcement agency might have. [7]

Law Enforcement Chaplains regularly visit the department for personal contact with law enforcement personnel and staff. They build trusting relationships and establish credibility. Riding with the officers on their shifts is vital to a successful ministry.[8] Chaplains also provide guidance and confidential counseling for personal, family, and job-related problems to both sworn and civilian personnel, their families and others. They refer those in need of professional help to qualified counselors. Chaplains assist families of officers/staff personnel/victims in times of serious injury, illness or death. They respond immediately to emergency situations involving departmental personnel and victims. Chaplains maintain an updated list of spiritual and social service providers, to whom they refer departmental personnel, victims, and their families.

Chaplains also conduct worship services and Scriptural Studies as needed.[9] One aspect of the ministries of Law Enforcement chaplains, like other chaplains working in the public sector (such as those serving in the military) is the need for effective ecumenical outreach, accepting all personnel that they minister to where they are in their faith journey.[10] Law Enforcement chaplains often have information about who can provide worship resources for other faiths, and also for the various denominations and groups within their own faith.[11] They offer invocations and benedictions at academy graduations, award ceremonies, and civic and social events, as requested.

Often the Law Enforcement chaplain is the only minister with whom law enforcement can relate. Occasionally, the chaplain is asked to conduct, or participate in, weddings and funerals by the officers or their families. The chaplain responds to the need as an opportunity for ministry and witness. Chaplains participate in basic law enforcement training. They sometimes become training resource leaders themselves in their areas of expertise, particularly in the cultural and practical aspects of differing faith and ethnic communities within their agency's particular jurisdiction. Law enforcement officers often need someone whom they feel that they can trust to assist them with death notifications, suicide attempts, emotionally upset people who have been traumatized, and a myriad of other problems and challenges. They also need someone to care for their families and themselves during times of trauma or distress.[12]

The Law Enforcement chaplain offers support to Law Enforcement Officers, Administrators, Support Staff, Victims and their families, and occasionally even the families of accused or convicted offenders.[13] The role of the chaplain within Law Enforcement is an important one in American culture.

Fire Department

Fr. Mychal Judge, Fire Department Chaplain

Chaplains working with fire departments provide the same kind of support to firefighters as do chaplains working with law enforcement, and sometimes face even greater danger, working with the wounded in often very dangerous surroundings.

At the scene of the September 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center, for example, Franciscan Monk fire chaplain, Fr. Mychal F. Judge, lost his life when he re-entered one of the World Trade Center buildings, shortly after administering last rites to a wounded firefighter.[14]

Health care

A hospitalized man receives communion from a chaplain, Guadalajara, Mexico.

Many hospitals and hospices employ chaplains to assist with the spiritual needs of patients, families and staff.

In the United States, health care chaplains are typically educated through the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and may be certified by one of the following organizations: The Association of Professional Chaplains, The National Association of Catholic Chaplains, The National Association of Jewish Chaplains, or The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. Certification typically requires a Masters of Divinity degree (or its equivalent), faith group ordination or commissioning, faith group endorsement, and four units (1600 hours) of Clinical Pastoral Education (the Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America does require more, but they are a dod2088 501c-3 military support group founded in 1954 by Military Chaplains).[15]

In Canada, Health Care Chaplains may be certified by the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education.

In England, Health Care Chaplains are employed by their local NHS Trust or by charities associated with hospice. The majority work part-time, combining their role with another post, either in a local Church or another chaplaincy. The professional body in England is the College of Health Care Chaplains. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the bodies are the Scottish Association of Chaplains in Healthcare (SACH) and the Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplains Association. Membership of the College of Health Care Chaplains is not compulsory but may be advantageous as it carries with it membership of a Trade Union. Chaplains working in a palliative care setting may also choose to join the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains.


Some businesses, large or small, employ chaplains for their staff and/or clientele. According to The Economist (August 25 2007, p64) there are 4,000 corporate chaplains in the U.S. alone, with the majority being employees of specialist chaplaincy companies such as Marketplace Chaplains USA or Corporate Chaplains of America. According to the Marketplace Chaplains USA, turnover at Taco Bell outlets in central Texas dropped by a third after they started employing chaplains. Workplace Chaplain organizations, such as Marketplace Chaplains Europe and Capellania Empresarial in Paraguay have been established outside the US.


A sports chaplain provides pastoral care for the sports person and the broader sports community including the coach, administrators and their families.

Chaplains to sports communities have existed since the middle of the 20th century and have significantly grown in the past 20 years. The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have well established Christian sports chaplaincy ministries.

Sports Chaplains consist of people from many different walks of life. Most commonly, the chaplains are ministers or full time Christian workers but occasionally, chaplaincy work is done without charge or any financial remuneration. Often, sports chaplains to a particular sport are former participants of that sport. This helps the chaplain to not only provide spiritual support and guidance to a player, but gives them the ability to empathize and relate to some of the challenges facing the participant with whom they are ministering.


A domestic chaplain was a chaplain attached to a noble household in order to grant the family a degree of self-sufficiency in religion. The chaplain was freed from any obligation to reside in a particular place so could travel with the family, internationally if necessary, and minister to their spiritual needs. Further, the family could appoint a chaplain who reflected their own doctrinal views. Domestic chaplains performed family christenings, funerals and weddings and were able to conduct services in the family's private chapel, excusing the nobility from attending public worship.[16]

In feudal times most laymen, and for centuries even most noblemen, were poorly educated and the chaplain would also be an important source of scholarship in the household, tutoring children and providing counsel to the family on matters broader than religion.[16] Before the advent of the legal profession, modern bureaucracy and civil service, the literate clergy were often employed as secretarial staff, as in a chancery.[citation needed] Hence the term clerk, derived from Latin clericus (clergyman).[citation needed] This made them very influential in temporal affairs. There was also a moral impact since they heard the confessions of the elite.[citation needed]

The domestic chaplain was an important part of the life of the peerage in England from the reign of Henry VIII to the middle of the nineteenth century. Up until 1840, Anglican domestic chaplains were regulated by law and enjoyed the substantial financial advantage of being able to purchase a license to hold two benefices simultaneously while residing in neither.[16]

Many monarchies and major noble houses had, or still have, several domestic or private chaplains as part of their Ecclesiastical Household, either following them or attached to a castle or other residence. Queen Elizabeth II has 36 Anglican chaplains, in addition to chaplains extraordinary and honorary chaplains appointed to minister to her. Castles with attached chaplains generally had at least one Chapel Royal, sometimes as significant as a cathedral. A modern example is St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, also the home of the Order of the Garter.[citation needed]

Educational Institutions

William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Former Chaplain, Yale University

Chaplains are appointed by many educational institutions, including colleges and universities, sometimes working directly for the institution, and sometimes as representatives of separate organizations that specifically work to support students, such as Hillel College Campus Ministry for Jews, and Newman House, College Campus Ministry, for Catholics. The National Association of College and University Chaplains works to support the efforts of many of these chaplains, helping chaplains minister to the individual faith of students, faculty, and staff, while promoting interreligious understanding. Chaplains often also oversee programs on campus that foster spiritual, ethical, religious, and political and cultural exchange, and the promotion of service.

Imam Yahya Hendi, is Muslim Chaplain for Washington DC's Georgetown University, the first American university to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain.


Chaplain’s Office, York Railway Station.

Chaplains also can be attached to sports teams, emergency services agencies, private clubs, groups such as Boys and Girls Brigade companies and scout troops, ships, hospitals, prisons, nightclubs, private companies, theatres and corporations. Chaplains also serve in hospice programs and retirement centers. The term can also refer to priests attached to Roman Catholic convents.

Chaplains in fiction

Chaplains have appeared as characters in several works of fiction about historical and imagined militaries. Father Mulcahy, a character in the M*A*S*H novels, film, and TV series, is a well known fictional chaplain.

In addition, Chaplains have been featured in mass media channels, such as the popular comic strip Doonesbury, authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Trudeau. The Rev. Scot Sloan is a character in Doonesbury inspired by real people: Stanford's Dean for Religious Life, Scotty McLennan, along with his mentor, former Yale Chaplain William Sloane Coffin.

The Chaplain is also a key figure in Albert Camus' novel "L'Etranger" (i.e. "The Stranger").

The profession of military chaplaincy is reflected in several major works of world literature, such as in the Herman Melville novella Billy Budd, Jaroslav Hasek's novel The Good Soldier Švejk, and Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22.

Jewish chaplains have been featured as main characters in books such as Herbert Tarr's The Conversion of Chaplain Cohen (which also includes an excellent portrayal of the U.S. Air Force Chaplain School experience), and Chaim Potok's The Book of Lights.

In the brutal dystopian future of Warhammer 40,000, Chaplains are Space Marine warrior priests. They are typically the most pious and zealous warriors in a Space Marine chapter and always fight at the forefront of an engagement.

Chaplains serve as combat soldiers in the Mobile Infantry from Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

The life of Dr. Lonnie Pepper, a fictional corporate chaplain, is detailed in a novel written by Mark Cress called The Third Awakening.

See also


  1. ^ Norman, J. (2004). At The Heart of Education: School Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care. Dublin: Veritas.
  2. ^ > Army Chaplain Corps > Requirements
  3. ^ Air Force Chaplain Agency - Home
  4. ^ Full debate between Christopher Hitchens and Rev. Al Sharpton (from which this quote was taken) is available on Google Video
  5. ^
  6. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  7. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  8. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  9. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  10. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  11. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  12. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  13. ^ Chaplain Fellowship Ministries, a national Law Enforcement Organization
  14. ^ NY Times, Daniel Wakin, Sep 27, 2002, Killed on 9/11, Fire Chaplain Becomes Larger Than Life.
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c Gibson (1997) pp1-6

Further reading

  • Paul Alexander, (2008), Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God. Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing/Herald Press. This book contains a scholarly analysis of the impact of Pentecostal military chaplaincy during the twentieth century.
  • Bergen, Doris. L., (ed), 2004. The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Century. University of Notre Dame Press ISBN 0-268-02176-7
  • Gibson, W. (1997). A Social History of the Domestic Chaplain, 1530-1840. London: Leicester University Press. ISBN 0-7185-0093-8. 
  • Nay, Robert "The Operational, Social, Religious Influences Upon The Army Chaplain Field Manual, 1926-1952"
  • Norman, James (2004) At the Heart of Education: School Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care. Dublin: Veritas Publications. ISBN 1853907529
  • Paget, Naomi & McCormack, Janet (2006). The Work of the Chaplain. Valley Forge: Judson Press. ISBN 0817014995
  • Smith, John C., Chaplain (International Chaplains Association)
  • VandeCreek, Larry & Lucas, Art (2001). The Discipline for Pastoral Care Giving: Foundations for Outcome Oriented Chaplaincy. Binghamton: The Haworth Press. ISBN 0789013452

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHAPLAIN, strictly one who conducts service in a chapel, i.e. a priest or minister without parochial charge who is attached for special duties to a sovereign or his representatives (ambassadors, judges, &c.), to bishops, to the establishments of nobles, &c., to institutions (e.g. parliament, congress, colleges, schools, workhouses, cemeteries), or to the army and the navy. In some cases a parish priest is also appointed to a chaplaincy, but in so far as he is a chaplain he has no parochial duties. Thus a bishop of the English Church appoints examining chaplains who conduct the examination of candidates for holy orders; such officials generally hold ordinary benefices also. The British sovereign has 36 "Chaplains in Ordinary," who perform service at St James's in rotation, as well as "Honorary Chaplains" and "Chaplains of the Household." There are also royal chaplains in Scotland and Ireland. The Scottish chaplains in ordinary are on the same basis as those in England, but the Irish chaplains are attached to the household of the lord-lieutenant. The Indian civil service appoints a number of clergymen of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. These clergymen are known as Chaplains, and are subject to the same conditions as other civil servants, being eligible for a retiring pension after 23 years of service. Chaplains are also appointed under the foreign office to embassies, legations, consulates, &c.

Workhouse chaplains are appointed by overseers and guardians on the direction of the Local Government Board, to which alone such chaplains are responsible. Prison chaplains are appointed by the home secretary.

In the British army there are two kinds of chaplains, permanent and occasional. The former, described as Chaplains to the Forces, hold commissions, serving throughout the empire except in India: they include a Chaplain-General who ranks as a majorgeneral, and four classes of subordinate chaplains who rank respectively as colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors and captains. There are about 100 in all. Special chaplains (Acting Chaplains for Temporary Service) may be appointed by a secretary of state under the Army Chaplains Act of 1868 to perform religious service for the army in particular districts. The permanent chaplains may be Church of England, Roman Catholic, or Presbyterian; Wesleyans (if they prefer not to accept commissions) may be appointed Acting Chaplains. The Church of England chaplains report to the chaplain-general, while other chaplains report to the War Office direct. In the navy, chaplains are likewise appointed but do not hold official rank. They must have a special ecclesiastical licence from the archbishop of Canterbury. In 1909 a Chaplains' Department of the Territorial Force was formed; there is no denominational restriction.

In the armies and navies of all Christian countries chaplains are officially appointed, with the single exception of France, where the office was abolished on the separation of Church and State. In the army of the United States of America chaplains are originally appointed by the president, and subsequently are under the authority of the secretary of war, who receives recommendations as regards transfer from department commanders. By act of Congress, approved in April 1904, the establishment of chaplains was fixed at 57 (15 with the rank of major), 12 for the artillery corps and r each for the cavalry and infantry regiments. There is no distinction of sect. In the U.S. navy the chaplains are 24 in number, of whom 13 rank as lieutenants, 7 as commanders, 4 as captains.

In the armies of Roman Catholic countries there are elaborate regulations. Where the chaplains are numerous a chaplainmajor is generally appointed, but in the absence of special sanction from the pope such officer has no spiritual jurisdiction. Moreover, chaplains must be approved by the ordinary of the locality. In Austria there are Roman Catholic, Greek Church, Jewish and Mahommedan chaplains. The Roman Catholic chaplains are classed as parish priests, curates and assistants, and are subject to an army Vicar Apostolic. In war, at an army headquarters there are a "field-rabbi," a "military imam," an evangelical minister, as well as the Roman Catholic hierarchy. By a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda (May 15, 1906), the archbishop of Westminster is the ecclesiastical superior of all commissioned Roman Catholic chaplains in the British army and navy, and he is empowered to negotiate with the civil authorities concerning appointments.

In Germany, owing to the fact that there are different religions in the different states, there is no uniform system. In Prussia there are two Feldprobste (who are directly under the war minister), one Lutheran, one Roman Catholic. The latter is a titular bishop, and has sole spiritual authority over soldiers. There are also army corps and divisional chaplains of both faiths. Bavaria and Saxony, both Roman Catholic states, have no special spiritual hierarchy; in Bavaria, the archbishop of Munich and Freysing is ex officio bishop of the army.

The origin of the office of capellanus or cappellanus in the medieval church is generally traced (see Du Cange, Gloss. med. et infim. Latin.) to the appointment of persons to watch over the sacred cloak (cappa or capella) of St Martin of Tours, which was preserved as a relic by the French monarchs. In time of war this cloak was carried with the army in the field, and was kept in a tent which itself came to be known as a cappella or capella. It is also suggested that the capella was simply the tent or canopy which the French kings erected over the altar in the field for the worship of the soldiers. However this may be, the name capellanus was generally applied to those who were in charge of sacred relics: such officials were also known as custodes, martyrarii, cubicularii. Thus we hear of a custos palatinae capellae who was in charge of the palace chapel relics, and guarded them in the field; the chief of these custodes was sometimes called the archicapellanus. From the care of sacred relics preserved in royal chapels, &c. (sacella or capellae), the office of capellanus naturally extended its scope until it covered practically that of the modern court chaplain, and was officially recognized by the Church. These clerics became the confessors in royal and noble houses, and were generally chosen from among bishops and other high dignitaries. The arch-chaplain not only received jurisdiction within the royal household, but represented the authority of the monarch in religious matters, and also acquired more general powers. In France the arch-chaplain was grand-almoner, and both in France and in the Holy Roman Empire was also high chancellor of the realm. The office was abolished in France at the Revolution in 1789, revived by Pius IX. in 1857, and again abolished on the fall of the Second Empire.

The Roman Catholic Church also recognizes a class of beneficed chaplains, supported out of "pious foundations" for the specific duty of saying, or arranging for, certain masses, or taking part in certain services. These chaplains are classified as follows: - Ecclesiastical, if the foundation has been recognized officially as a benefice; Lay, if this recognition has not been obtained; Mercenary, if the person who has been entrusted with the duty of performing or procuring the desired celebration is a layman (such persons also are sometimes called "Lay Chaplains"); Collative, if it is provided that a bishop shall collate or confer the right to act upon the accepted candidate, who otherwise could not be recognized as an ecclesiastical chaplain. There are elaborate regulations governing the appointment and conduct of these chaplains.

Other classes of chaplains are: - (r) Parochial or Auxiliary Chaplains, appointed either by a parish priest (under a provision authorized by the Council of Trent) or by a bishop to take over certain specified duties which he is unable to perform; (2) Chaplains of Convents, appointed by a bishop: these must be men of mature age, should not be regulars unless secular priests cannot be obtained, and are not generally to be appointed for life; (3) Pontifical Chaplains, some of whom (known as Private Chaplains) assist the pontiff in the celebration of Mass; others attached directly to the pope are honorary private chaplains who occasionally assist the private chaplains, private clerics of the chapel, common chaplains and supernumerary chaplains. The common chaplains were instituted by Alexander VII., and in 1907 were definitely allowed the title "Monsignore" by Pius X.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary







chaplain (plural chaplains)

  1. A member of the clergy officially assigned to an institution, group, private chapel, etc.


Simple English

A chaplain is typically a priest, pastor, ordained deacon or other member of the clergy. They usually serve a group of people who are not organized as a mission or church, or who are unable to attend church for many reasons, such as poor health, confinement, or military or civil duties.


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