Next Sunday, November 10, many U.S. dioceses (including mine) are taking a special collection for the Archdiocese for the Military Services. I posted this because the Archdiocese for the Military Services is not all that well known, and I wanted to provide more information:
First, the Archdiocese for the Military Services receives NO GOVERNMENT FUNDING.
Second, the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA does not per se have their own priests. Priests come from other U.S. dioceses and religious orders, with permission from their local bishop or their religious superior. This is one reason there is a shortage of Catholic priests in the Armed Forces.
Third, Catholic chaplains are given Reserve commissions, not regular commissions. Catholic chaplains often return to their home dioceses (or their religious order, a few Jesuit priests and other Religious Order priests are in the Armed Forces) after completing military service.
Fourth, the Navy and Air Force require a Chaplain to already be a U.S. Citizen. The Army has made a few exceptions to this requirement. It is also preferred that a Chaplain begin his military service prior to the age of 42. The 42 age is due to physical requirements and the military has a “mandatory retirement” at 62. Chaplains that have prior military experience (many do, but this is not a requirement, but it does help in understanding the military, and several chaplains grew up in military families) can add their years of previous time served. Example: a former artillery officer with 5 years of service would only need 15 additional years to qualify for a 20 year retirement).
Fifth, the bishop of a Catholic chaplains home diocese (or religious superior) must approve (i.e. give an ecclesiastical endorsement) him to serve in the military, even as a Reservist or the National Guard.
Sixth, A Catholic chaplain must be already ordained (unless he is a seminarian and given the distinction as “chaplain candidate”) and serve three years in a parish prior to being released. This is one reason that many Catholic chaplains are a few years older than their Protestant bretheren in the military. However, chaplains are commissioned as O-3, which is Captain in the Army and Air Force, and Lieutenant in the Navy. Navy Chaplains also serve the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard.
Seventh, military chaplains (regardless of denomination) must meet the same physical standards as the other officers, based on age, weight, running time, etc.
Eighth, military chaplains do go on deployments. Quite a few Navy chaplains serve on aircraft carriers, and Army and Air Force Chaplains have served “in country” in Iraq and Afghanistan. One Chaplain, Fr. Timothy Vakoc, (MAJ, CHC, USAR), succumbed to this injuries from an IED in Afghanistan. I have visited Fr. Vakoc’s gravesite - it’s the military cemetery close to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport).
For more information, please visit the website:
Thanks for listening. Many chaplains have said their military service is a “vocation within a vocation.”
For those who have served in the military - thank you.