What is an Ordinariate?
While an Ordinariate is a jurisdiction equivalent to that of a diocese, it is not defined geographically by city or territory, but by a unique and significant pastoral need that requires more flexibility. Within the territory of a particular Conference of Bishops, one or more Ordinariates may be erected as needed.
What is the Military Ordinariate?
The Military Ordinariate exists to care for the pastoral needs of men and women in the armed forces, including their families. It is staffed by military chaplains and has a residential bishop who serves as its head and is called a “Military Ordinary.” A Military Ordinariate is not limited by geography; it attaches to persons (or is “personal”) in that it exists wherever men and women in the armed forces of a particular nation are deployed. The norms which govern a Military Ordinariate are set out in the Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II, Spirituali Militum Curae
The History of “Army Bishops” in Canada
In Canada, the Military Ordinariate was canonically erected on 21 July 1986. It was in 1918, however, during the First World War, that the Holy See appointed Canada’s first Military Ordinary, the Bishop of Valleyfield, the Most Rev. Joseph-Médard Émard (later Archbishop of Ottawa). He went on to appoint a Vicar-General in Canada and another in England from among the army chaplains to provide for the pastoral needs of military personnel who were part of the war effort. During the Second World War, a Bishop was again posted to the armed forces, but it was only in 1951, with the erection of the Military Vicariate of Canada by Pope Pius XII, that such appointments were formalized and maintained both during war and at peacetime.
The Purpose and Service of the Military Ordinariate
Over the course of their careers, the members of the armed forces are frequently assigned to different places both in their native countries and abroad. During this time, they or their family members may be baptized, confirmed or married. The installations where these sacraments are received may vary, can be temporary, and are often in foreign countries which continue to experience instability even after troops are withdrawn. The Military Ordinariate ensures that the armed forces are properly staffed with clergy and non-ordained pastoral agents who are well formed and informed under the direction of a Bishop so that members of the armed forces are not deprived of the sacraments or pastoral care during their years of military service. It also assists men and women in the armed forces by ensuring their sacramental records are up to date, in safe keeping, and easily accessible regardless of where they are stationed. These records can be accessed by contacting the headquarters of the Military Ordinariate in the military personnel’s home country (for Canada, see contact information below).
Military Funerals in Civilian Parishes
When a soldier dies in combat, the place of the funeral is left to the discretion of the surviving family members. They may choose to celebrate the funeral in the chapel of the military base where the member was currently serving, at their parish of origin, or home parish. The ECL (Episcopal Commission for the Liturgy) and the CELS (Commission Épiscopale de Liturgie et des Sacrements) of the CCCB have issued the following suggestions to assist in the planning and celebration of such a military funeral when it occurs in a civilian parish: Guidelines for Military Funerals in Civilian Parishes.
Military Ordinariate of Canada (ON)
Military Ordinariate of Canada
Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa)
Uplands Site – Building 469
Ottawa (ON) K1A 0K2
The Most Rev. Scott McCAIG, C.C.
Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of Canada