Fr Andy McFadden, a priest of Paisley diocese, has been appointed Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain to the Royal Navy.
Fr McFadden succeeds Mgr Paul Donovan who has retired after 28 years service.
Fr McFadden has served on ships and submarines around the world, as well as at shore bases in Cornwall, Portsmouth and Faslane.
When he was chaplain to the Plymouth-based helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, he was involved with the crew in humanitarian work rebuilding a school, church and hospital in Sierra Leone in the wake of the civil war. He also served in support of the ship’s company, sailors, Royal Marines and Royal Artillery, as well as Fleet Air Arm – over 1,000 souls in total, in a lengthy operational period of more than 100 days constantly at sea.
Following HMS Ocean, Fr McFadden was appointed to HMS Raleigh, in Torpoint, Cornwall, where he enjoyed being part of the new entry training establishment with up to 60 new recruits joining each weekend. As well as the chaplaincy team’s constant duties of pastoral care for new recruits there was always a steady flow of candidates for sacramental preparation with some seeking baptism and reception into the Church.
There are many young servicemen and women searching for Christ. Seeking strength in faith and the sacraments before embarking in their life in the naval service.
Fr McFadden said: “As a priest, it was a wonderful time of grace and great opportunity – literally, Benedict XVI’s New Evangelisation in action.”
During his time at HMS Raleigh, Fr McFadden probably confirmed more 18 to 25 year olds than any bishop.
For the past two years he has ministered to personnel in both submarines and ships with base port in Scotland.
“Submarines are a unique experience,” he said, “a very specialised group, indeed an elite, but with great heart and humanity. I sensed this especially in my time with HMS Astute, the Navy’s latest submarine. It has been a privilege to work so closely with the Silent Service.”