As he pulls out and holds his five service medals you can see the pride in Father Mark Sexton, Nuriootpa’s eyes.
Father Sexton from the Northern Light Catholic Parish served in Afghanistan for six months in 2011.
Going back right to the beginning, Father Sexton joined the Australian Army straight out of school in 1976.
Born and bred in SA, Father Sexton spent 20 years in the army prior to going in active and training as a priest.
He spent three years full time, and 17 as a reservist.
Forty percent of people who identify as Christian in the Australian Defence
Force identify themselves as being Catholic, and not once had a Catholic Padre been posted.
In 2010 the Chief of Defence at the time said there must be a third chaplain who is a Catholic priest.
Father Sexton, being the only Catholic chaplain in Australia to qualify, was asked to go.
Once Father Sexton arrived in Afghanistan he spent most of his days wandering about to see people, have a chat and let them talk.
With a lot of children going through first aid, Father Sexton often had a packet of some sort of sweets to help form a connection where they’d feel comfortable to talk.
He laughed as he said Tim Tams went down very well with Americans!
Find more about Father Sexton’s time in Afghanistan in our April 17 printed edition of The Leader.