The 2011-2012 John J. Wintermeyer Lecture
Faith on the Battlefield: The Experience of Canada's Roman Catholics Priests during the Second World War
From the very moment Canada entered the Second World War, the Roman Catholic Church mobilized itself to ensure that its flock who responded to the nation's call to serve would have access to priests on military bases and on the battlefield. At every turn, however, Roman Catholic chaplains wrestled with important challenges: setting up an administrative structure that corrected the mistakes of the First World War; recruiting enough clerics to meet the needs of military personnel at home and abroad; gaining the respect from military officers and accessing resources to perform their duties; and responding to the spiritual needs of soldiers who often found themselves homesick and in search of distractions. This lecture is the story of the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy Service and its padres during the Second World War, a story filled with politics, struggles, immorality and even death.
Yves Y. Pelletier
A PhD graduate in Canadian history from Queen's University, Yves Y. Pelletier has published many articles on diverse topics, including the challenges facing military chaplains during the Second World War, the use of procedural motions to end debate in the House of Commons and the highly subjective process to determine the national historical significance of people, places and events. His PhD thesis looked at the commemoration of Sir John A. Macdonald, with a focus on how each generation of national political leaders re-imagined the public image of Canada's first prime minister to serve their own needs and interests and to reflect the evolving nature of Canada. This thesis is being transformed into a book with a publication date to coincide with the bicentennial of Macdonald's birth in 2015. Fluently bilingual, Yves lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick where he is the Assistant Deputy Minister of Post-Secondary Education for the Government of New Brunswick, a position that oversees public and private universities and colleges as well as student financial assistance in the province.
This lecture was endowed by a special fund created by family and friends in memory of the Honourable John J. Wintermeyer.