To recognise those who are serving in our defence forces, and in honour of those who have done so in the past, we share the story of the Reverend Kate Lord, who took an unconventional career path after graduating from Trinity College’s Theological School. Her story seems even more fitting given Anzac Day will be a little unconventional this year too.
Kate Lord (TCTS 2013) isn’t your average priest. In a day’s work she could be abseiling, learning how to fight a fire, or getting tear gassed. As a Chaplain with the Royal Australian Navy, these drills prepare her for potential combat situations at sea, while Trinity College’s Theological School prepared her to support the men and women on deployment.
‘Sometimes recruits have an existential crisis when they realise how dangerous their job is – they might have hunted a kangaroo before, but then they need to shoot a human-shaped target; then leaving family behind for six months is always a huge challenge,’ says Kate.
Although an ordained priest, Kate says her role in the Navy involves little religious ministry, aside from prayer groups and a Sunday church service. ‘I just help where I can,’ says Kate, who is the ship’s only trained mental health provider. ‘I sit with people; I talk to them.’
Talking to people is what Kate loves most, which is why she moved away from her first role in the Navy: driving warships. After leaving the Navy at age 24 to raise a family, Kate began studying theology. She had no religious background but had started attending St Paul’s Church in Ringwood, where the clergy encouraged her to study.
With no clear life direction besides getting her two kids to school, Kate took up a Master of Divinity through the University of Divinity, followed by the ministry formation program through Trinity College, while also doing youth ministry at her church. She hadn’t considered marrying her previous profession with her new qualifications, but once the opportunity arose, everything fell into place. ‘This is the job I was born for,’ says Kate. ‘I loved being at sea in the Navy and I loved working with young adults in the church, and now this is the culmination of both. My life makes so much sense now.’
Image courtesy of Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence