Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 7, 2000
Basilica rector does double duty
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
If there was such a thing, he just might be called Father Lt.-Cmdr. Len Cadieux.
On his home turf at St. Joseph's Basilica, he's Father Len. On his other home turf at the naval reserve unit just off Kingsway, he's still Father Len.
"It's like having two jobs, you have to balance it out," said Cadieux.
Cadieux, 41, is rector of the basilica and a chaplain in the naval reserves. The second job took him to the Golan Heights in Israel for the last two weeks of December. Though he has been out to sea, this was his first peacekeeping assignment. This was also the first year a naval reserve chaplain went on peacekeeping duty.
Cadieux celebrated midnight Mass on Christmas Eve for the troops and their families. His job was made easier because morale was already high there.
"I didn't know what to expect there, but I knew that I was going over at Christmas time and morale could have been very low."
Cadieux's lieutenant commander rank is equivalent to that of a major in the army. But he admits the rank does not give him much commanding power over the troops. He doesn't hold the keys to secret military manoeuvres or call the shots on attacks. He joked that many of the new recruits would probably be better at taking over a ship than he would.
"But we've got people's lives in our hands," Cadieux said. "We make decisions that affect a lot of people."
As a chaplain, he is counsellor and psychiatrist. He has influence and a power of persuasion.
"We're the ones who decide if someone can work in isolation. When someone comes back from a place like Bosnia, we have to decide how that time there has affected him.
"That's why we don't have any power of command. We cross all the lines, from seaman to the commander. We deal with everyone."
Cadieux grew up in Sherwood Park, where he and his brothers were cadets in a youth navy corps.
He decided serving God and his country was what he wanted to do. He received his commission to the naval reserves in 1981 and was ordained to the priesthood eight years later.
In September 1999, he was appointed formation chaplain responsible for the 24 naval reserve chaplains in Canada.
Cadieux visits the local naval reserve unit twice a week, offering the families counselling and spiritual guidance. In the unit there are no religious boundaries. Cadieux doesn't reserve himself for the Catholic families. He is available to all.
Cadieux is also trained as an officer. Which means he can go into battle, without a gun of course, since as a priest his is not permitted to carry a weapon.
It would seem that being an officer and a priest might have its points of conflict, but Cadieux handles both jobs with ease. He's at home in both his Roman collar and his combat boots.
He "loves every minute" of his work as a chaplain, something he's requested to do fulltime but was denied because he was needed at the basilica. He has had his share of the heavy and hard days - the days where he's had to counsel the relatives of a wounded or dead officer.
But his work in the Church and in the reserves has given him the confidence that all things are possible.
"My military training has taught me that there's nothing I can't do."
For aspiring military chaplains, Cadieux has one bit of advice: do it while you're young. The training isn't just a lap around the track and a couple of push-ups.
Another bit of advice from Lt.-Cmdr. Cadieux: be down to earth. His status as a man of the cloth doesn't keep him away from the masses. He often joins the officers in the mess hall or sits down and has a drink with them.
"You need to be real, Jesus was real," Cadieux said. "And you don't push (Jesus) on them.
"You have to be balanced. You want to minister to the whole person."