Military Service?


As I am going through the job searching woes, I am giving consideration to joining the US military (probably the Coast Guard since I live in FL and they seem the most willing to work with a college graduate with no military experience). Is it wrong for Catholics to serve in the military? Obviously, even though the USCG is not going to get sent to Iraq or some other war zone, one might still be called on to kill someone (obviously, hopefully not).

Is it wrong to consider joining the military, especially since I have a long term desire for the ordained Priesthood possibly? Would being in the military reduce my chances of later being accepted for the Priesthood?


No, it is not. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong)

I believe there is a concept called “just war”, but I am not familiar with it. Sorry.


Quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.107

Here is the link for the Archdiocese for the Military Services:

Perhaps you could write them to ask how military service might affect your vocation?


There are many soldier saints. :slight_smile: St. Joan of Arc, St. Sebastian, warrior kings and popes and crusaders.

Military service can help instill the discipline necessary for you to be a great priest and fight spiritual battles as a soldier rather than a civilian – which is what one should do, because we are all in the spiritual battle for God’s sake.

That being said there are down sides to military service, the atmosphere can be very irreverent, you will have to consider everything and pray about it. The Coast Guard though is comparitively light work to other branches, I believe. :slight_smile:


Serving some time in the military may be a way of “discerning” you vocation. The military also has priests, along with ministers of other faiths. If you do go in, sign up for the educational bit. Basically, you have a certain percentage of your money taken ouot, and the military matches that. At least to some degree. When I was in I think they matched something like 2/3’s of what you put in. This way, if you are called to the priesthood you have something laid aside for tuition.


Military service could help in your education cost, which you could use when studying for the priesthood.

The Dioceses don’t always pay for everything.

Also, you can eliminate a lot of the core courses while serving in the Military.

I’d choose the Coast Guard as well. In fact, my choices back in 1970, were Coast Guard, Navy or Marines. I ended up in the Marines.



My last pastor was in the military… every base I was at had a Catholic Chaplain…

IMHO… that would be the best of both worlds… Join the military… try to get posted in the Chapel Corps and discern with your Catholic Chaplain to guide you.


In the Army there was an mos for “chaplain’s assistant.” I’ve heard that the training for that (after basic) is only two weeks. I’m sure that the Coast Guard has the same thing.


I am also in the military (although it is the Canadian Military) and when I was serving alongside Americans in Kandahar, I have never seen so much faith shared amongst troops. It really floored me, where I am located I am almost an outcast for attending church! I say join and form your own opinion, embrace the new experiences and grow with them. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.


Well, I may end up joining the US Navy instead of the Coast Guard. I hope they will accept me though, I have one little spot on my past as it were. When I was 12, my mother passed away due to alcoholism (I am adopted so the genetic issue is…well…not an issue) and it was tough for me. At one point, I self checked-in to a mental institution short period of time (I was 13). I hope the military does not hold it against me or disqualify me.

I think it would be cool if I can join the USN or USCG since, with my Bachelor’s degree, they would send me directly to Officer Candidate School. If I became an officer, I think that would help deal with my low self-esteem issues.


Sorry if I went into too much detail.


I’m not in the military so I don’t know how they judge a person’s qualifications. :slight_smile:

Each branch has its own. Perhaps you’ll find someone here who knows more.


I’m a cradle Catholic and retired Air Force. I say look into it and see if there are programs that can enable you to have the military pay for your seminary in exchange for service. It may be taking care of both your wishes. Once ordained, you can fulfill your military duty as a Catholic priest chaplain.

I had some amazing moments in Kuwait, and found my desire to be a part of the local chapel pastored by a wonderful Catholic priest.



If you expect your self esteem issues are going to be dealt with in a positive way, forget it. I had a low self esteem when I went in, and came out with one even worse. Get those issues dealt with first, then see about going into the military.


Sorry for re-activating a dead thread, but I have a military service question too :o
Something like the Coast Guard is (relatively) light, but what about the “harder” stuff, such as Marines (it would be the Royal Marines for me) or the French Foreign Legion, where things like killing the enemy isn’t a “I hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does…” mentality like it is in, say, in the police os CG. Isit still morally acceptable to join then? I’m not gung-ho or anything, i just want to join something thats tough, so I can toughen upboth physically and mentally, and it seems the tougher regiments are more accepting of the “death” aspect of their work.


I understand you wanting to join a “tough regiment”, let me assure you it will bring you to the point of both physical and mental exhaustion. But I’m not so sure that those individuals are more aceepting of death, I believe they are courageous. But wether it is the Airborne or Supply, everyone is at risk for conflict overseas, take my word for it, if you decide to join it will change you. And for some, it is not for the better.
I have met ‘gung-ho’ people who after the first rocket hits, huddles in the corner crying.
As for the question on morality, I believe it is if your actions are just.
Remember fear is always present but it is pushing that fear aside and doing it anyways that is courageous.

P.S. I’m in the Canadian Military with 2 tours


CHCatholic and Army Girl,

Yes, if one gets into a ‘combat’ situation, you do what you HAVE to do… your life and the lives of others there are at stake. It may not be what you wanted but it’s the way it comes down in battles.

And yes, it will change you! Once the adrenaline wears off, you have been at the brink of life-and-death… all the rest seems so insignificant. Like: how does my hair look; what color dress to wear; what to eat, chicken or ham; what to watch on tv… non of these matter any more, it means NOTHING… as compared to where you have been (on the edge).

I know those that loved that edge, and kept going back to it… for the adrenaline rush. And, like myself, coming back home and finding all the ‘non-sense’ going-ons with those who have not been there on the edge, fighting over SUCH small things, getting in spats over what someone said or did… which, in a week will not even be remembered anymore. It was hard to get back into this society again, even the family… I just did not see ‘important’ anymore what they saw as ‘important’… the Harmony was gone!

It took some three years to re-acclimate back into society, where I could ACTUALLY feel what others felt and consider it of merit for exchange. It wasn’t easy! They do not understand you (and where you have been, mentally/spiritually), and you view them as chasing trivial non-things. There is a delayed PTS that also affects you, some of which is described above, some of which I will not mention here, as it affects each one differently (slight variations of the same theme).

Remember, self-defense is always JUST!


Absolutely NOTHING is wrong with joining the military!!! =]

My dad is retired Air Force, so we live near base (in fact I now work on base as an admin assistant… civilian position). We attend mass on base sometimes, and let me tell you, they are really hurting for military priests! Every Mass we pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood… especially in the military.

I think it is an honorable career. Being a priest and serving your country! How wonderful.

Good luck to you, and God bless. =]


They wouldn’t hold that against you I dont believe. How old are you now? Since you have your bachelor’s it seems that age 13 was at least ten years ago…

Have you considered the Air Force at all? IMHO, this is the branch I would join. =] You can join as an officer with your bachelors (better pay!)… but this might be true with all branches of the US Military.

With any branch of the military you can try to get stationed working with the chapel group… i know here at McChord AFB, our chapel support is pretty large. We currently don’t have a military priest though =( There aren’t enough, and McChord is a tiny little base, so they give the active duty priests to the larger bases! =P


When I served in the US Marines back in 1971, we did an exchange of troops with the British Royal Marines. Some of their guys came to live and train with us, and some of our guys went to live and train with them, for three months. The physical training was good in both branches. However, our living conditions were not as good as the British Marines, who actually lived in luxury compared to us. This was the opinion of both the Brits and the Americans.

The French Foreign Legion, in my opinion, is the toughest military outfit on earth. For one, you sign a minimum five year commitment. Second, you can never get married while serving. Third, you’re serving with people from all over the world, who are tough.

The training films that I’ve seen by the French Foreign Legion, showed just how elite and tough they are.


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