Gibraltar priest joins Royal Navy Chaplaincy

Fr Charles with Bishop Richard Moth

Fr Charles with Bishop Richard Moth

Father Charles Bruzon is the latest recruit to the Royal Navy Chaplaincy. He has written the following article describing how he came to join up.

The Royal Navy has a long and proud association with my home town, Gibraltar, captured by the Royal Marines in 1704. Perhaps it is thus unsurprising that as a youngster, when watching the fleet sail into our port from the balcony at home, I often contemplated the idea of one day joining the Senior Service. Eventually the calling came from another direction, that of the Church and the priesthood. Having undergone priestly formation at Saint Mary’s Seminary, Oscott in the West Midlands I was ordained at the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned on the famous Rock on 25 May 1995. I did a couple of stints as curate in two of our Diocese’s six parishes after which I was appointed Parish Priest of Saint Bernard’s Church and  Officiating Roman Catholic Chaplain to the Military. God certainly does work in mysterious ways for this new appointment brought me into close contact with the Royal Navy, effectively rekindling my interest in joining, but as a Regular Chaplain.

Almost forthwith began a series of ship visits and meetings with many Royal Navy Chaplains and after a long process of discernment I decided to speak to my Bishop who gave me permission to apply during the course of 2009. During my ten years as officiating Chaplain to the Military (OCM) I also spent a lot of time serving as TA Chaplain to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. This enabled me to immerse myself even more fully in military life and albeit with time constraints, due to my parish ministry and school chaplaincy work, I managed to accompany the Regiment on Exercise on several occasions, mainly in Morocco and the Brecon Beacons in Wales. I believe and am hopeful that this experience will hold me in good stead in the Navy. For the first time I feel I can combine two of my great interests, my love of ships and the sea and the desire of a life of service in the Church.

Members of Her Majesty’s Forces, whether Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force are no less deserving of the attentions of the Church than anyone else. Quite the contrary, one could argue that given the difficulties they face the Church should reach out to them more than ever before. I hope to make a good contribution to the Royal Navy Chaplaincy Service and the Catholic branch and as I embark (excuse the pun!) on this new chapter in my priestly ministry I would ask that people pray for all military chaplains. I am hopeful the experience will enhance my priesthood and that during my time in the Navy I will also be able to continue pursuing my hobbies of reading, sport and even a spot of fishing!

When I was 15 years old, a visiting Redemptorist priest said to me “Charles, I think you may have a vocation to become a priest”. My reply was “Not me Father, I’m going to join the Royal Navy”.  Well, I guess you could say that we both right! And that priest was Father Ralph Heskett. He was a regular visitor to Gibraltar, and he frequently supplied for me when I was on holiday. Earlier this year, he was appointed Bishop of Gibraltar, so it was he who released me from the diocese to enable me to become a Navy Chaplain.

I look forward to returning to the Rock of Gibraltar one day, on a Royal Navy warship of course, finally fulfilling my dream of old!

After completing officer training at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth I will work alongside an experienced Chaplain in Portsmouth for several months before a two year sea going posting, then, hopefully it will be ‘Gibraltar, here I come!”.

Source: Bishopric of the Forces

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