“DON’T underestimate God’s love and the power of the Gospel when it comes to recovery from life’s traumas.”
Brisbane military chaplain and Jubilee parish deacon, Peter Devenish-Meares, has this key message at the heart of two of his contributions recently published in respected Australian and US journals.
Completing a doctorate on the topic, his specific focus is the importance of these factors in the recovery of war veterans from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Now a university research centre on PTSD wants to collaborate further on some of the findings discussed in Deacon Devenish-Meares’ writings.
“It’s not rocket science what I’m writing about,” he said.
“We need to keep in mind the human being comprises spirit as well as body and mind.
“I want to have a conversation with the ‘psych’ and business worlds to say they can’t overlook the power of the Christian gospel and Jesus’ message of love in healing.
“It’s about responding to those who say: ‘I want to speak to padre about forgiveness and healing and compassion.’
“Often people suffering trauma want someone to pray with them, and sometimes to reconnect with the Church and ultimately with God.”
Deacon Devenish-Meares is an Army Reserve chaplain who served for six years in a full-time infantry battalion. He’s also state chaplain with Mission Australia, deputy state chaplain at St John Ambulance and a board member of a mental heath NGO.
He recently had contributions published in the ADF Journal and the US Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health.
“In the articles, which expressed my own personal views, I wanted to honour the untiring work of chaplains often not widely recognised,” he said.
“The chaplains who have inspired me, reflect Pope Francis’ strong words about care for our neighbour, the need for welcome in our social circles, and the directness of the link between having faith in Jesus and responding to the poor.
“I also wanted to look at ways to offer suffering workers support on the road to recovery.
“It’s an immense privilege to talk to these men as they try to make sense of what they’ve seen and heard in theatres of war.”
Deacon Devenish-Meares said veterans hold such conversations throughout the year, “although commemorations such as Anzac Day tend to bring such issues into sharper focus”.
He’s working on two more articles with a view to publication.
“One deals with the compassion of the Good Samaritan; the other is on spiritual detachment – with God’s help, being able to distance oneself from one’s own problems to get perspective,” he said.