From bells to baptism for Navy’s chaplaincy

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper (author and photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling

As a baby, Damon Jackson was baptised at the HMAS Stirling Chapel in 1997 by Chaplain Robert Graue. The two are now both posted to HMAS Stirling 20 years on and caught up at the Chapel of St Paul at HMAS Stirling to reflect on their past history. (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper)
As a baby, Damon Jackson was baptised at the HMAS Stirling Chapel in 1997 by Chaplain Robert Graue. The two are now both posted to HMAS Stirling 20 years on and caught up at the Chapel of St Paul at HMAS Stirling to reflect on their past history.

The odds of performing a wedding ceremony for a young Navy couple, baptising their son and then sitting next to him to reflect the events 20 years later, is extremely slim, but the Navy is one big family and stranger things have happened.

Chaplain Robert Graue sat next to Seaman Damon Jackson at the HMAS Stirling Chapel and reflected upon the history they had shared and the future that lay ahead.

In 22 years of Navy Chaplaincy, Chaplain Graue has performed around 284 baptisms, and on 25 October 1997 in the Stirling Chapel, baptised baby Damon Jackson.

Chaplain Graue said that it was a surreal moment crossing paths with the now Seaman Damon Jackson.

“In this very bell nearly 20 years ago, I baptised Damon,” Chaplain Graue said.

“I married Damon’s parents, who were both in the Navy as ‘stokers’ at the time, and baptised him along with his brothers and sister.

“I have seen him grow up over the years, it is so wonderful to now be serving with him in the Navy,” he said.

Joining the Royal Australian Navy in May this year, Seaman Jackson posted to Stirling in July for his category training at the School of Maritime Warfare - West.

“My family most certainly was an influence in me joining the Navy, but most of all I joined because I wanted an exciting and diverse career,” Seaman Jackson said.

“All my family travelled to Melbourne for my graduation at HMAS Cerberus and it’s great to be back home in Western Australia for the next stage of my training and career.”

A Navy Chaplain is a trusted friend who provides pastoral care and spiritual support to all members of the Royal Australian Navy and their families, so that Navy is better placed to fulfil its mission.