Archbishop Broglio Shares Signs of Hope Regarding Pastoral Ministry in the Armed Forces

Speaks to supporters at 6th Annual Benefit for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Archbishop Broglio addresses supporters at the 6th Annual Benefit for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, on Thursday, November 13, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Archbishop Broglio addresses supporters at the 6th Annual Benefit for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, on Thursday, November 13, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Archbishop for the U.S. Military Services told supporters Thursday night there are tiny signs of relief to a chronic shortage of Catholic priests serving as active-duty military chaplains. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., said more and more young men are going through priestly formation to become military chaplains in the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program—a ongoing vocations support partnership between the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), and local dioceses and religious communities around the country.

Speaking to more than 150 gathered at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine for the AMS 6th Annual Benefit, Archbishop Broglio said:

“This year, three very young priests—one a co-sponsored seminarian—began active-duty service. Next year, at least three co-sponsored priests will don uniforms—one, I am pleased to announce, for each branch.”

The guests, including many active-duty personnel, smiled and applauded during the Archbishop’s brief remarks, which directly addressed an ongoing challenge for practicing Catholics in the Armed Forces: Catholic chaplains are reaching the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, for example, as the nation has waged its longest war in history, the number of priests on active duty has declined by more than 40%, dropping from more than 400 to 227, leaving only one priest for every 1,300 Catholics in uniform, not to mention their families. Catholics make up 25% of the military, but Catholic priests make up only 8% of the chaplain corps.

Archbishop Broglio said:

“The crunch is still severe, but there are many signs of hope. The young faces around here tonight, peering out of either Roman collars or military uniforms, give evidence at least of those who are nearby, of the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program. They represent 32 co-sponsored seminarians, and we give thanks to almighty God for that sign of hope for the future.”

The Archbishop expressed his gratitude to the assembled guests, all of whom purchased tickets or sponsorships for the benefit to support, among other needs, the growing bill for seminary tuition and expenses. Six years ago, when only seven young men were enrolled in the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, the bill was running less than $90,000 per year. With 32 now enrolled, the bill is approaching $400,000 per year, and the projected cost for the next five years is $2.7 million, in addition to the AMS’s annual operating budget of $5.1 million. The AMS receives no funding from the government, and since Catholic congregations in U.S. military chapels are restricted in the use of their Sunday collections, they provide the archdiocese with little income on a regular basis. The AMS survives almost entirely on private giving from individuals, foundations, and organizations, which funds all AMS programs and expenses including support for vocations and the education of future priests and chaplains.

Anyone wishing to support the AMS, and who missed the 6th Annual Benefit on Thursday in Washington, will have two more opportunities this year to attend fundraising receptions with Archbishop Broglio. This year, for the first time, the Archbishop will host benefits inCleveland, Ohio, and San Francisco, California. Sponsorships and tickets are still available.

The Cleveland reception will be held Saturday, Nov. 29, at the English Oak Room at Tower City Center, 230 West Huron Road, immediately following a 4:30 p.m. (EST) Mass to pray for peace in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. All are welcome for Mass but tickets must be purchased in advance for the reception. Archbishop Broglio, a native Clevelander and alumnus of St. Ignatius High School, will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass. AMS Auxiliary Bishop Neal J. Buckon, a fellow Cleveland native and alumnus of Cathedral Latin High School and John Carroll University, will also be on hand to greet guests.

The San Francisco reception will be held Tuesday, Dec. 9, at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel, 609 Sutter Street, at 6:00 p.m. (PST). Tickets must be purchased in advance.

For more information, including sponsorships and reception tickets, go here or contact Mary Lavin at mlavin@milarch.org or (440) 223-6482.

Donations can also be made here.

Proceeds will go to support Catholic military chaplain vocations and other pastoral services to Catholics in uniform.