Chaplain General’s Award
Tribute to Major Rev. Gary Ostler
Awarded: March 2006
by Chaplain General Ron Burke
The Chaplain General’s Commendation is given in rare instances to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the Chaplain Branch over an extended period of time. This year’s recipient has distinguished himself with over 4 decades of service and his allegiance to the Canadian Forces through his constant efforts to support and minister to CF members and their families are indisputable. Since enrolling in the University Reserve Training Plan in 1966, he subsequently served as a Reserve Chaplain in many capacities over a period of 40 years.
In 1970, at the request of the Chaplain Branch (RC), he spent a year establishing the Religious Education Programme for DND Schools in Lahr Germany. He served as chaplain (RC) to the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, from 1976-84; as Area Chaplain(RC), for Central Militia Area Headquarters, from 1984-87; as District Chaplain (RC) for the Ottawa Militia District, from 1988-91, as Area Chaplain (RC), Land Forces Central Area, from 1991- 94; and as Deputy Area Chaplain, Land Forces Central Area, from 1994-2006. Since 1974 he has served Branch 297 of the Canadian Legion, as their chaplain, and he has also been, and continues to be, chaplain to Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations.
In 1989-90 he was employed as the deputy Command Chaplain at St. Hubert, while continuing to be pastor to the largest parish in his Diocese. In 2000 he accompanied veterans and their families to Vimy as their pilgrimage chaplain. He has also been a valued member of the Chaplain General’s Operational and Strategic Councils and the Reserve Planning Working Group.
This chaplain is the epitome of what servant leadership is all about. In 1995 when the Branch restructured, this chaplain was asked to accept the position of Deputy Area Chaplain even though he had been responsible for all chaplains, Regular and Reserve in the Area since 1990. Being the consummate professional, he accepted this demotion in a spirit of humility and welcomed his new Regular Force supervising chaplain with warmth and a renewed commitment of duty.
He has remained tireless in his drive to recruit new chaplains, and constant in his commitment to provide superb mentorship to those he was called upon to lead. He was a strong advocate for increasing Reserve chaplain accountability and professionalism, and for developing a team approach to the delivery of Chaplain Services, within his Area and beyond.
Since his ordination to ministry, this chaplain has also been the pastor of 4 large and vibrant parishes within his Diocese. In two of those parishes he has undertaken extensive renovations due to a natural disaster and a fire. Completely bilingual, he has served as Episcopal Vicar to the English sector of the Diocese, and is the Diocesan Vocational Director as well as the President of the Ontario Association of Vocational Directors. He has been a member of the Military Ordinariate Ecclesiastical Council and served on the committee for Episcopal ordinations.
It is not easy to gauge the number of lives that have been touched and shaped by the ministry of care and leadership that this chaplain has offered over the past four decades, both within our Canadian Forces, and within the larger fabric of our nation. What is clear, however, is that the example he has set for those with whom he served, and the pattern he has laid down for those who will follow in this ministry, are truly and unquestionably outstanding.
His contributions to the Regular and Reserve components of the Canadian Forces, and to the congregations and communities he has served so faithfully as a priest, are indeed worthy of recognition. It is with great honour that the Chaplain General’s Commendation for 2006 is presented to Major (Ret’d) Gary Ostler. Well done, good and faithful servant!
Chaplain General Ron Burke – March 2006