Interfaith Navy Style
Christians, Muslims and Jews from the Royal Australian Navy prayed together in the imposing setting of Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday in an Ecumenical and Interfaith Service commemorating the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet into Sydney.
Representing the Jewish community, Captain Jeffery Hilton of the RAN Reserves donned his yarmulke to read the “Prayer for the Fleet Review”, following on from the “Prayer for Diversity” by Captain Mona Shindy. Captain Shindy was recently appointed to the new role of the Navy’s Strategic Advisor on Islamic Cultural affairs by the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs
“I felt truly honoured, not just as a member of the Navy Reserve, but as a Jew, to be included in such a ceremony,” Captain Hilton told J-Wire after the service. “I cannot begin to emphasise how important the ceremony is for the Navy. The fact that the Navy went to the trouble to include a Jew and a Moslem shows that they want to have an integrated ADF”.
Captain Hilton praised CN Griggs for being the driver of the event telling J-Wire “I was just talking to the CN who said that it was one of his priorities to make the Navy inclusive and representative”.
On assuming his position CN Griggs committed himself to modernising naval culture through furthering its “New Generation Navy” strategy, one plank of which is that the Australian Navy is to be “diverse and respectful always”. In his brief commemorative address, which also paid tribute to the lives of all those who served the nation in peace and in war, CN Briggs underlined that point: “Going forward, we will be a much more diverse navy as part of a much more diverse Australian defence force” and concluding “Faith centres us, help us fight with honour and dignity, and it is faith in the human condition, which allows us, when the fighting is done to reconcile to forgive and to move forward”.
The service took place in the presence of the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir and included the Commanding Officers of each ship and establishment participating in the International Fleet Review. The ceremonial order of service commenced with the marching in of the Australian White Ensign, and included a Fanfare composed for the occasion, music provided by the Sydney Male Choir and the RAN band, and finally the Reveille.