Rev David Skillen, a Permanent Deacon from the Diocese of Lancaster is the first Permanent Deacon to be commissioned as a Chaplain in the Royal Air Force. He was commissioned following training at RAF Cranwell as part of a specialist entrants course which included a Salvation Army and Presbyterian Chaplains, doctors and a lawyer. David, a former police officer and teacher has been posted as Catholic Chaplain to Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Father James Caulfield, Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain to the RAF said: “I am very proud that David will be serving as the first Permanent Deacon to be commissioned as a Chaplain in the RAF. We desperately need more priests as Chaplains in the RAF but there is a great deal that a deacon can offer in provision of pastoral support to service personnel and their families.
David will be going to RAF Brize Norton, the hub of the transport fleet and more significantly the home of the RAF Aeromedical team and the site of the repatriation ceremonies. His previous work as a policeman and in prison chaplaincy will be of great value. His experience as a teacher will assist in teaching the Beliefs and Values Programme to the RAF trainees.Deacon David Skillen graduated from RAF Cranwell on Thursday, 19 June, as the first Deacon to be commissioned for chaplaincy in the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom. From the Diocese of Lancaster, Deacon David served in the police before being ordained to the permanent diaconate and working in school chaplaincy.
Having successfully completed Officer Training, he begins his new ministry at RAF Brize Norton.
“Deacon David’s commissioning is good news for the Bishopric of the Forces”, said Bishop Richard Moth, Bishop of the Forces, “and will help us to explore new possibilities for chaplaincy. Given his experience, I am sure Deacon David will bring much to his role and I ask everyone in our RAF community especially to keep him and his family in prayer as he begins his new ministry.”