First of five installments to educate future military chaplains
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) has received a $200,000 check from the Knights of Columbus (K of C) to launch the “Father McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship,” a fund to support the seminary education of future Catholic military chaplains through the “Seminarian Co-Sponsorship Program.” The scholarship is named after the Venerable Father Michael McGivney, the 19th Century priest who founded the K of C, now the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization. The K of C has committed a total of $1 million to the McGivney Scholarship through 2015.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, expressed appreciation and gratitude for the scholarship, which comes at a time of rising education costs to the AMS as a more young men enter seminaries to fill a growing shortage of Catholic military chaplains whose aging numbers are retiring faster than they can be replaced.
Archbishop Broglio said:
“The Knights of Columbus, over many years, has been most generous is providing much needed financial support to this Archdiocese as well as providing it with a wide range of programs and services. The Father McGivney Military Scholarship is but the latest instance of the organization’s generosity, and for that I am most grateful.”
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said:
“The Knights of Columbus has for many years enjoyed an unmatched friendship with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, and I am delighted that we can extend our legacy of support through this important program to support both seminarians and the military, two cases near and dear to the hearts of all Knights.”
The chaplain shortage comes as more priests reach the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 than younger men are responding to God’s call to take their place. The number of active-duty chaplains has fallen from more than 400 in 2001 to 243 today. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. armed forces, Catholic priests currently account for only 8% of military chaplains.
The Seminarian Co-Sponsorship Program was set up by the AMS with cooperating U.S. dioceses and religious communities to replenish the ranks of Catholic priests both in the U.S. military and throughout the Church by supporting vocations drawn largely from the armed forces. The Program targets the military because it has proven to be a rich pool of priestly vocations. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University conducts an annual survey of newly ordained priests in the U.S. It finds that year in and year out, nearly 10% have previous military experience and about 20% come from military families, making the AMS the largest single source of American priestly vocations.
Co-sponsorship means that a diocesan bishop or religious superior agrees to accept a prospective chaplain in his diocese or religious community as a seminarian, and that the seminarian will participate in the chaplain candidacy program of one of the three branches of the armed forces. The AMS and the seminarian’s home diocese or religious community split the cost of his five-year, $25,000-per-year education in half, each paying 50% of tuition, room and board and other expenses, or about $12,500 a year.
Once the new priest is ordained, the bishop or religious superior typically agrees to release him for military service after at least three years of pastoral experience in his diocese or community. When the priest leaves the military, he returns to the diocese or community for further pastoral work. So both the AMS and the priest’s home diocese or religious community benefit from his ministry.
The AMS was created as an independent archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 1985 to provide the Catholic Church’s full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to Catholics serving in the U.S. armed forces, enrolled in U.S. military academies, undergoing treatment in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, working for the U.S. Government in civilian jobs outside of the country, and their families.
As the nation’s only archdiocese without geographical boundaries, the AMS endorses and grants faculties to priests for on-site ministry at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries and 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S. Additionally, American Catholic civilians serve the federal government in 134 countries, but due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population. Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs.
For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, visit www.milarch.org, the only official Web site for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M.