Scheduled the evening of Nov. 13 at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, 3900 Harewood Road, NE, Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Facing a chronic shortage of Catholicpriests serving on active duty as chaplains in the United States Military, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), is working vigorously to fill the gap, but Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio says he needs more prayersand support from the faithful. “More than 300,000 Catholics now serve on active duty in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces,” Archbishop Broglio said, “but right now, we have only 227 priests serving as active-duty chaplains.” That’s one priest for every 1,300 Catholics in uniform spread out over the globe! That figure does not include their dependents.
“Catholics make up approximately 25% of the military population,” Archbishop Broglio said, “but Catholic priests comprise only about eight percent of chaplains. Put another way, 92% of the chaplains in the military represent Protestant denominations or other faiths. That can make it hard for Catholic servicemen and women to practice their faith, particularly on distant deployments and in war zones where Masses are few and far between and servicemen and women can go weeks at a time without access to the sacraments; and when they do need spiritual counseling, those Catholics often have to go to non-Catholic chaplains, who sometimes proselytize their own religious teachings.”
Archbishop Broglio says it would take nearly an additional 500 priests to meet the military’s current demand for active-duty Catholic chaplains. Right now, he’s just looking for as many as he can get, and those efforts are beginning to pay off. Since creating an Office of Vocations in 2008, the AMS has seen a dramatic increase in the number of young men coming through the “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program” to be Catholic military chaplains.
The Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program is a 25-year-old partnership between the AMS and local dioceses and religious communities to support vocations, drawing heavily from men already in the military. Thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with increased awareness and discernment opportunities for prospective chaplains, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to 30 today. By comparison, from 2005 to 2008, so few prospective chaplains were in the pipeline that not a single priestly ordination was celebrated during the entire three-year period. From 2008 until the end of this year, however, 13 new priests will have been ordained priests on the path to chaplaincy. And with AMS Vocations Director Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., now in place, building upon the trailblazing success of predecessors, Father Kerry Abbott, O.F.M. Conv., and Msgr. John McLaughlin, Jr., more are on the way.
That’s where Archbishop Broglio says he needs support. Because of the sharp growth of the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, the AMS is now confronted with a fast-rising seminary bill. Six years ago, when only seven young men were enrolled, it was running less than $90,000 per year. The bill is now approaching $400,000 per year. And taking expected tuition increases into account, the projected cost for the next five years is $2.7 million. That’s in addition to the AMS’s annual operating budget of $5.1 million.
The AMS receives no funding from the government. It has no parishes to take up weekly collections. The AMS depends entirely on private giving for survival, including the education of future priests and chaplains.
On Nov. 13, the faithful will have an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way by joining Archbishop Broglio and his four Auxiliary Bishops at the AMS 6th Annual Benefit. It will be held at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, 3900 Harewood Road, Northeast, in Washington, D.C. 20017. The reception starts at 7:00 p.m. (EST). Tickets and sponsorship levels are as follows:
$250 per individual
$500 per couple
$5,000 (Vocations Sponsor)
$10,000 (Leadership Sponsor)
$25,000 (National Sponsor)
$35,000 (Corporate Sponsor)
$50,000 (Pastoral Sponsor)
Donations can also be made here.
Proceeds will go to support Catholic military chaplain vocations and other pastoral services to Catholics in uniform.