Military Chaplain Day in Ukraine Date in the current year: October 25, 2024

Military Chaplain Day in Ukraine Military Chaplain Day is an unofficial professional holiday celebrated in the Armed Forces of Ukraine annually on October 25. It is dedicated to all military chaplains serving in the country’s armed forces.

A chaplain is a cleric or a lay representative of a religious tradition attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, school, university, business, military unit, police department, fire department, prison, embassy, etc. Although the term chaplain originally referred to Christian priests, it is now applied to the representatives of other religions (imams, rabbis, etc.) or people of other philosophical traditions such as secular humanism.

Military chaplains provide spiritual guidance and support to military personnel, their families, and civilian personnel working for the military. They may also work with local civilians in war zones or other areas with a military presence. Chaplains are more than just clerics; they are trained professionals who are supposed to serve any spiritual need regardless of the person’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof.

Although the history of military chaplaincy in Ukraine can be traced back to the baptism of Kyivan Rus’ in the late 10th century, it is only recently that military chaplains have taken a more important role in the country’s armed forces. Following the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War in February 2014, several dozen Catholic priests volunteered to serve as chaplains to certain units fighting in Donbas to boost their morale.

On July 2, 2014, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine issued a decree on the service of military chaplains in the Armed Forces of Ukraine (ZSU). Two years later, the first full-time positions of military chaplains became available in ZSU. Finally, on November 30, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) adopted the Law on the Military Chaplaincy Service that came into force on July 1, 2022.

According to the law, the main task of military chaplains is to provide spiritual guidance and support to military personnel regardless of their religious views. To become a military chaplain, one must receive a mandate; mandates are issued to clergymen who are Ukrainian citizens, belong to a religious organization registered in Ukraine, and have a degree in theology.

On October 25, 2022, the State Service for Ethnic Policies and Freedom of Conscience of Ukraine issued the first 83 mandates to Ukrainian military chaplains. This date was chosen for its symbolism: on this day, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine used to celebrate the feast day of Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers and military chaplains.

In 2023, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine officially switched from the Julian to the revised Julian calendar. According to the revised Julian calendar, the feast of Saint Martin falls on October 12. However, it was decided to continue celebrating Military Chaplain Day on October 25 to commemorate the issuance of the first military chaplain mandates in Ukraine. Although the holiday is not official, it is widely celebrated in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

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Military Chaplain Day in Ukraine, observances in Ukraine, military observances, unofficial holidays, military chaplains