How useful are Padres?

I'm involved as Padre to SCC, ATC and now ACF (as well as TA role).

I find that in SCC setting many Padres turn up, do the God slot and leave again.

ATC was as sketchy (I was a cadet and then help adult jobs and never saw a padre for all of my Cadet life).

What do Padres in ACF do? What would you like them to do (keep it clean - have a nervous disposition) and how do I make sure that my role is effective and useful for adult staff as well as cadets?

Any experiences, things to learn from and things what not to do would help me here.


As an ex cadet SI it might be worthwhile saying that cadets don't know the value of the padre but as we're teaching them how the military works then, in my opinion, it's essential that they know what a padre does and why he's there.

They're just going to treat you like the vicar or priest at their local church so on visits I would recommend that you do something interesting with them. Don't lay the whole church thing on them too heavily because they probably get that at school and those who don't won't care anyway. See if the staff will let you give a lecture on something like cooking up rations - something which is so totally unpadrelike and use the opportunity to give them a laugh so that they go away thinking the padre isn't like a minister at all - he's one of us.

I would teach them the value of having a close confidante in the padre. Someone to go to when things aren't working out or when they've suffered trauma. If you're dilligent in how you do it you may get one or two 'returning to the fold'.
Once had a padre give us a talk on leadership...not God related at all but very interesting.

Padre was also ex 1 PARA padre and a very impressive man!


Book Reviewer
I've come across a number of Padres (steady!!!), good, bad and indifferent. All I would add is that you need to get amongst the guys and get involved with what they're doing. Be approachable, have a laugh, and don't push the religion side of things too much.


Book Reviewer
They provide an independent person who cadets can talk to and provide both moral leadership and morale leadership if they are any good at their role.

How useful are padres? useful as they want to be but the organisation would be the weaker for their loss.
A padre can be your friend. Sometimes your only TRUE friend when a situation becomes unbearable.

A cadet, especially in Adolescence, may need that bit of friendship more then an adult who can grasp the social structure a bit easier.
As a former cadet who essentially did not know the meaning of anything the real army was about, I would say that your role for the youngsters as an acf padre would be to be as fun and normal as humanly possible. Tune in to their wavelength and understand that most of the kids come from unstable backgrounds, don't lay too heavy on the religion side, but be as a kind of mentor in teaching them how to do their job as a cadet and as a part of society. Duty to country and each other is rarely tought these days. And above all, get involved, get your cam cream on and take part in their activities, lead by example.
I remember even as a young Brat the Padre was a man you could truly rely on when you were down on everything, I know we often talk bravado and "in my day" blah blah on here, to a point it is true, however sometimes when you are a 16 year old lad and in a totally alien environment sometimes you need a venting post, be it the Padre or the WRVS lady. Most of the Padre's I have met do focus more on the "social" problems than the religious side, as such they are not on the hard sell but promoting well being and good thoughts. Hats off gents, and cheers for helping me through plenty of shit.
I, as a detachment commander, found the Padre to be a huge help recently. One of my Cadets was in the very unfortunate position to have to live along side her mother whilst she was dying from Cancer. I am a reasonably good listener, and helped the Cadet through the trials and tribulations of what was a very difficult time for her and her mother. Inevitably, her mother died. I found, that having never been in a similar situation that I was now out of my depth. Enter the Padre. He did a far better job with the requisite pastoral care and the shoulder to cry on, than I could ever have done. Top Man!! Definitely got my vote

We also had, until recently, an ex TA Para Padre. He was old enough to have said grace at the Last Supper. Right up to his last days as Padre, and even to this day (when he visits at annual Camp)he still does all of the walks with the Cadets (with his Dog Collar, Dennison Smock and 'A' Frame Bergan), he then erects his Bivi, complete with cross made from surplus Bivi poles, and then he walks round chatting with the Cadets. The Cadets love him. He's their Granddad and their role model. Another top Bloke, an inspiration to all, and hopefully some of the other 'less visible' Padre's.

Overall, "Long live the Padre's!!!"
Padres are very useful in the ACF. They are at sufficient distance from County HQ to be independent and non-judgemental but close enough to have the ear of the Commandant (if that contradiction makes sense). The Commandant will often listen to the advice of the Padre on matters of a pastoral nature - welfare and that sort of thing. Many of the Padres I've known haven't be adverse to putting on the cam cream and coming out in the field. They are also a very good source of dirty jokes!
Our padre as really cool, he used to drive a landrover full of mars bars and coke and drive it out to us lot on exercise or wherever we happened to be. Very much beat having to eat the boil in a bags.
Thank you for above comments.

I'm always troubled when the God slot pushed too hard and everything above makes me think that (learning curve included) my first inclinations towards this role will be something in the right direction. I've set up a confidential line for use by the other chaplaincy roles that I have and will probably extend this to ACF.

I have been told that their is also a 'listener' attached to the county. Not sure what he does or who he is accountable. Is this a part of, or parallel to, cahplaincy role?

Padre, the 'County Independent Listener' is a job every County is meant to fill. Meant to be an impartial person who knows a little about the ACF, little about the personalities and who can act as a shoulder to cry on really. Not someone to go and vent your spleen to when you're pissed off with the RSM. I find the Padre as a good person to chat to about life in general - the football scores as well as personal dilemmas.
Sounds like the County Independent Listener is a bit of an Oxygen Thief Post really, something for the CV. Surely a Padre does that job anyway. It also raises the question of "How does little Timmy get hold of the County Independent Listener".

Everyone knows the Padre, and i'd rather speak to a man of the cloth.
IMHO our padre is a bit of a ghost. Only turns up on annual camps and is almost impossible to get hold of in times of crisis. Even I as an instructor could have used his help recently after the loss of my child, but as normal he was unavailable.
I dont think the county staff push the fact that the padre is there to help and to listen as much as possible. I guess on his part its a case of hes never needed so is never there.
My advice would be to make sure you are available as much as possible and that you are well known in the county. That way people will seek you out more often and not run away or think of a priest bringing you into confession every time the padres name is mentioned.

Yeah, best way would be to visit Company weekends, that way you get to see the kids apart from on annual, and in a more concentrated place.
County Independent Listener job is not one of the 'jobs for the boys' - it's really meant to be the MO, NO or Padre who acts in a double-hatted capacity. I tell my lot that if they have any problems in the ACF, at home, whatever and they want to speak to someone they can always come to me. If however they don't feel comfortable coming to me they should go to the Independent Listener, whose name and phone number I have displayed on my noticeboards.
So the independant listener should be the Padre then?

My apologies, from reading previously it did seem like an oxygen thief job that could easily be done by the padre.

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