Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WWII Chaplain, 1st Priest to Get M.B.E. Dies - 106

I'm following the lead of The Anchoress in avoiding politics during holy week with her caveat - "Barring anything huge". So it's on to my lesser interests - art and obits.

This obit from Canada's Windsor Star on Father Mike Dalton:

He was 106, a month shy of his 107th birthday.

This son of a Goderich farmer is the most decorated padre who ever served in the Canadian Army. He marched at the front lines with his fellow soldiers, often carrying their weapons when they tired of battle.

Besides the Military Cross for bravery, Father Dalton was the first Catholic priest to receive the Member of the British Empire. The day King George VI pinned the decoration on his tunic at Buckingham Palace, he dug deep into his pockets and handed the monarch a Catholic religious medal.

That's who he was, but this detail demonstrates how military chaplains are soldiers in a greater battle:

If there was anything he didn't like, it was losing those fathers and sons to war. He had sensed their inner fears. It didn't matter if the orders were to stay clear of the front lines -- he listened instead to his own heart, and drove his jeep to the brink of battle. And he would sit there in the open jeep -- its windshield festooned with flowers -- and hear the laboured, disturbed confessions of terrified soldiers.

Continue reading.