Reflections from a chaplain

Rewarding life of faith

Fifty years ago Graeme Ramsden made a life-defining decision to join the army, which led to a distinguished career as a soldier and chaplain to the military and police, from which he has recently retired.

- The Catholic Leader

Deacon Ramsden is a straight-talking man of faith who understands a life of discipline and sacrifice.

Aged 70, he retired recently after distinguished careers as a soldier and a chaplain to the military and the police.

He has an easy-going manner, enjoys a joke and is a good listener – just the attributes of a chaplain who has stood beside Australia’s service men and women as a rock in times of suffering as well as joys.

“Their pain becomes your pain,” Deacon Ramsden said.

During the past 10 years, as chaplain to the Queensland Police Service, he has witnessed some tough times. “Police are in the public eye every day, and there are incidents that don’t always go well,” Deacon Ramsden said.

He recalled incidents when police officers had to make quick decisions. “For instance, when someone comes at an officer with a knife from close range, it’s a difficult decision to have to shoot,” he said.

“If you take another human life you have to deal with that for the rest of your life."

In 2011 Deacon Ramsden was among those who supported the family and colleagues of Detective Senior Constable Damian Leeding, a 35-year-old, married, father of two who died after injuries sustained from a shotgun blast.

The policeman was shot when he and another officer responded to a call about an armed robbery at a Gold Coast tavern.

“Police chaplains are the great unsung heroes of the police service,” Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said. “They are highly respected. During dark times there is a lot to be dealt with, and in their work there are the many small things that give comfort and make a difference."

Graeme Ramsden was born and educated in Kingaroy, north-west of Brisbane, and left school after junior school (Year 10) to work with an uncle “as a milkman.”

As a young man he thought seriously about the priesthood, but said he “definitely wanted to be married and have a family”.

He made a life-defining decision to join the army in 1966, starting as a vehicle mechanic and rising to the rank of major.

He married Dianne and they had four children. Their eldest son Christopher has served in Afghanistan and now works in Laos. Second son Michael is a policeman, and their only daughter Megan is a teacher in the Catholic system. Patrick, the couple’s youngest, is a human resource manager. Dianne has a Bachelor of Theology and a Masters in Pastoral Counselling.

Photo: Deacon Graeme Ramsden with his wife Dianne (The Catholic Leader)

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Military and police chaplain Deacon Graeme Ramsden calls it a day

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