In the circus there are big performers, the lion tamers, trapeze artists, conjurers. The clown comes out between the great acts. He is not the centre of events. His dress is strange, his face is masked and he wears a pointed hat. The clown brings the audience back to ordinariness. He falls and fumbles; he has no magic and does nothing extraordinary. After the tension created by the circus heroes, the audience relaxes and smiles again with the clown. Of the heroes they say “How can they do it?” Of the clown, “He is just one of us”. Like the clown, a chaplain shares with the people he comes in contact with; shares a tear and a smile; shares in the human weakness. The chaplain is the clown in the circus of life.
A chaplain is one who caters for the pastoral and spiritual needs of those to whom he is sent. A chaplain benefits from events that they have experienced in life and from having reflected on failure in ministry and life. Neither are they necessarily a priest or nun and increasingly chaplains can be lay people who undertake special training. Often where he chaplain is a lay person, we offer support for them in the form of saying Mass, hearing confessions and sometimes counselling. The work is varied and the people you meet can be very broken but in their brokenness can shape you and educate you as to God’s plan at work.